I'm interested in a list of sounds that humans make with their mouths.

I'm not looking for

  • speech sounds
  • sounds that take a non-average skill (such as beatboxing)
  • sounds that cannot be made with the mouth alone, but require fingers, tools etc.

Context: I've written a software tool that automatically creates mouth animation for animated cartoons and computer games, based on audio recordings. I'd like to make sure that it covers all special cases besides normal dialog.

Here's what I've come up with so far:

  • breathing
  • smacking one's lips/clicking one's tongue
  • coughing/clearing one's throat
  • blowing a raspberry
  • gagging
  • burping
  • whistling
  • humming ("Mmm hm hmmm...")
  • giggling/laughter
  • crying
  • inarticulate screaming (like "Aaah!")

I'm happy about individual additions to the list; I'd also appreciate references to existing collections or to freely available audio corpora.

  • 5
    If you are not looking for speech sounds or other language related features, then a linguistics site is not really the right place for this question. Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 9:41
  • 1
    I understand the problem, but there can't be an SE for everything and I just don't think it fits here if it is explicitly about non-language sounds. Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 9:53
  • 4
    I consider this question on-topic: When you are transcribing audio corpora you will have to deal with all the ways of sounds humans do produce. The usage of those sounds may even be linguistically motivated. Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 11:50
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    You should also be aware that the same sound/articulation may be linguistic in some languages but not in others. For example, the bilabial trill described by @LuisHenrique is not a linguistic sound in English, but it is a linguistic sound in several other languages. Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 13:12
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    @jknappen Sure, if the question was asking about transcription then it'd be on-topic, but it doesn't...
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 15:36

7 Answers 7


You may find some useful ideas in the following list:


Also belch. To expel gas noisily from the stomach through the mouth

The baby burped after being fed.


To push air from the lungs in a quick, noisy explosion.

He started to cough once he had a cold .


To make a sound from the vocal chords without pronouncing any real words, with one's lips closed.

They were humming happily along with the music.


The involuntary sound resulting from a spasm of the diaphragm

He got the hiccups as soon as he started eating.


A low, mournful sound uttered in pain or grief or uttered in frustration or disapproval

She groaned when her mother asked her to do the shopping.


To laugh gently or in a high-pitched voice; to laugh in a silly or giddy way.

The jokes had them giggling like little girls all evening.


To express mirth, satisfaction, or derision, by peculiar movement of the muscles of the mouth, usually accompanied by the emission of explosive or chuckling sounds from the chest and throat.

They were told a joke and were laughing.


A quick breathing; a catching of the breath; a gasp.

When he arrived, he was panting because he ran all the way to school. puff

A sharp exhalation of a small amount of breath through the mouth.


A loud, emphatic, exclamation of extreme emotion, usually horror, fear, excitement...

She screamed when she saw the mouse in the kitchen.


To make a short, audible inhalation, through the nose, as if to smell something.

The dog sniffed around the park, searching for a nice scent.


To expel air as a reflex induced by an irritation in the nose.

When you sneeze people say: "God bless you!"


To breathe during sleep with harsh, snorting noises caused by vibration of the soft palate.

He sometimes snores and when he snores you can' stand the sound.


A deep and prolonged audible inspiration or respiration of air, as when fatigued, frustrated, grieved, or relieved; the act of sighing.

She sighed when she finally found her keys.


A loud sucking noise made in eating or drinking


To open the mouth widely and take a long, rather deep breath, often because one is tired and sometimes accompanied by pandiculation.

I could see my students yawning, so I knew the lesson was boring


The act of speaking in a quiet voice, especially, without vibration of the vocal cords.

They were whispering when the professor started his lecture.

Source: myenglishpages.com


First, there are few sounds that people can make with only their mouths (to be more precise, the oral cavity). Clicks, yes, but not breathing, because breathing also involves the lungs. Let's suppose that you mean "the body parts used for speech", but not necessarily in the way that they are used in speech. (Ingressive lung air uses the anatomy, but in a non-speech like fashion). In other words, sounds produce in and by the vocal tract.

When applied to language, the unscientific concept "sound" gives way to a more scientific concept "phoneme", the reason being that English (for example) has a linguistically significant constant unit /p/, and there are zillions of actual distinct sounds (acoustic waveforms) corresponding to productions of /p/. As part of a linguistic system, it makes sense to say that these various instances are "the same thing". There is no conventional sameness to the set of non-linguistic vocal tract sounds. To take an example, put your tongue in position for [s], but sharply inhale rather than blow. People make this sound all the time. And they may round the lips to varying degrees. Each of those productions is "a sound". It only makes sense to talk about counting and possibilities when you have a fixed correlate, e.g. associating the sound to something meaningful like a snake or a block of ice.

As you can see, there can be no "list" because the set is infinite. All you can do is explore your anatomy and see what new sounds you can come up with. This question would be best asked at the Comedians SE, if it existed, because many of them make their money discovering new face sounds. There are thousands of general possibilities, leaving aside subtle nuances contributes by narrowing a passage by a couple of millimeters.


There is this sound children make when playing with toy trucks (to simulate the sound of the motor). It sounds similar to brrrrrrr, but the thrilling part is made by vibrating the upper lip - like a labial /r/. It is like "blowing raspberries", but without involving the tongue.


Spitting (the purpose is not to make a sound, but there is a sound as a subproduct)? Similarly, the sounds produced when gulping a liquid or chewing a solid?

Is moaning included in screaming or crying?

Do making sounds with the mouth aided by instruments count? Playing the flute, the trombone, whistling with the help of fingers or a leaf, blowing into water to make bubbles? Or the other way round, inflating your cheeks and using them as a drum? (I see that you exclude sounds that require an especial skill, but to me simple whistling is already a skill; many people are unable to do it).

Involuntary sounds like often happens when drinking, when air inadvertently enters the mouth?

  • 1
    Thanks for your suggestions and your questions! I'm only interested in sounds made by the mouth alone, i.e. without aid from fingers, instruments, liquids, etc. I've edited the question accordingly. Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 14:51

I came across the AudioSet ontology, which contains a hierarchy of sounds. The group "Human sounds" lists the relevant subgroups "Human voice", "Whistling", "Respiratory sounds", and "Digestive", each of which contains further subdivisions.

Some sounds like smacking one's lips seem to be missing, though.


Not only computational folks deal with this kind of stuff. Discourse theory call this (laughing, humming etc.), if I remember correctly, "paralinguistic". (speaking for the Vienna Critical Discourse Analysis, see e.g. https://boris.unibe.ch/13708/)

You might find existing work on these things under this term.


Smacking your lips together is also a potential sound. I do this when i call my friends and its loud enough to distinguish.


I came across your question when trying to look for some words to describe the sound I was trying to make, then I found this great list of sounds http://m.writtensound.com/index.php?term=human

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