How Do You Describe Snoring Sounds?

How Do You Describe Snoring Sounds?

snoring sounds

Everybody undeniably knows what snoring noises sound like — it’s the sonorous, grumbling, grating sound that 44 percent of men and 28 percent of women make every night instead of laying in bed quietly! The causes of snoring can range from simple dry mouth to serious issues like sleep apnea. What we do know is that snoring is universal — it’s part of the way humans are built, with all the squishy parts in the neck and throat. But what do we call snoring sounds, other than snoring or loud snoring? Here’s a deep dive into colloquialisms and adjectives related to snoring.

Snoring sounds clip:


But First, Where Do Snoring Sounds Come From?

Snoring is caused by the upper airway (muscles) relaxing, becoming partially closed while you sleep (no snoring while awake). As air attempts to squeeze through the narrow passage, your throat and nasal tissues vibrate, sometimes loudly. Snoring itself is also subject to things such as your body position, sleep stage, and route of breathing (nose vs mouth). Snoring sounds can be caused by a handful of different things, but luckily all of them are, in some way, fixable.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Snoring Sounds

Snoring is probably the best known respiratory sound, but how do people actually describe it? The word itself conjures up an immediate mental response of the sound — we all know it — but the you’ll-know-it-when-you-hear-it method is not enough to explain how the sound actually exists in the world. Sure, studies can show that loud snoring produces a frequency somewhere between 20 and 300Hz, but unless you study sound, that probably doesn’t get you anywhere. D. Pevernagie, R.M. Aarts, and M. De Meyer’s study “The Acoustics of Snoring” doesn’t do any justice either, objectively describing the snoring sounds as: “the pitch of snoring is determined by vibration of the soft palate, while non palatal snoring is more ‘noise-like’, and has scattered energy content in the higher spectral sub-bands.” This gets us nowhere! But, it may help us understand why there are so many colloquialisms — there isn’t an agreed upon descriptor for what snoring truly sounds like.

Snoring Sound Effects Around the United States

Because “snoring sounds effects” isn’t a good way to describe what it’s like to hear a snoring sound, there are regional colloquialisms around the U.S. that are great stand-ins for simply using the word “snoring.” Thanks to research from the Dictionary of American Regional English, these terms are preserved forever, despite how changes in language occur over time, and can help us expand our vocabulary of snoring sounds.

Saw Logs/Saw Wood — This is probably the most widespread snoring sound descriptor, and maybe because it’s so darn accurate! This is how snoring noises are often depicted in cartoons and comics as a way to show snoring happening. You can probably picture Elmer Fudd sleeping with a log getting sawed above him while he snores loudly.

Cut Gourds — It’s much more charming than sawing logs, but that’s to be expected from a turn of phrase that originates from the South and South Midland. It’s delightful, though you probably don’t feel that way about loud snoring, huh?

Call Hogs — Another term used in the South and South Midland and equally charming, this term is apparently from Scotland and England, where the term call refers to driving or herding the animals, with any variation of farm animal.

Crack Corn — In Florida and Virginia, cracking corn is the term used for crushing it into small pieces, such as milling for grits. It’s loud and crunchy and reminiscent of monstrous snoring sounds for sure.

Rattle the Shingles — A favorite colloquialism on this list, it refers to the rattling or clamorous activity of loose shingles on a windswept building. If your snoring is boisterous, you’ve rattled the shingles!

Grind Gravel — Despite being a Wisconsin colloquialism, you know exactly what this means when you hear it. Referring to snoring as grinding gravel seems particularly astute.

Cook Turnips — Now, this one may cross the silliness line, but in Pennsylvania it’s normal to refer to cooking turnips, referencing the turbulence of root vegetables bouncing around in boiling water. It’s quaint and country and gosh darn it, more people should call their snoring sound effects this.

The etymology of the Snore

For some brief context on snoring, it seems that “snore” may derive from Middle English’s snoren or fnorin, both of which also refer to the word “snort” and that the Proto-Indo-European pnew (“to breath/snort/sneeze”). The Middle Low German snorren (“to drone”) and the Dutch snorren (“to hum or purr”) are more recognizable as the snoring sounds themselves and likely the source of our Modern English use of the word. Just... Keep calling it “snoring” and you’ll be fine!

Descriptive Snoring Sound Effects

Describing the sound of snoring really depends on the person, situation, intensity, and individual use cases. If you’re just snoring, you might just snore… but if you want to use flowery or powerful language to really drive home how much you can’t stand the snoring noises any longer, here are some options:

Adjectives for Snoring Sounds:

- Sonorous

- Droning

- Nasal

- Stuttering

- Gasping

- Heavy

- Drawn-out

- Shallow

And if you want to really blow ‘em away? Add on a powerful noun for additional intensity!

Nouns for Snoring Sounds:

- Wheeze

- Grumble

- Gargle

- Sigh

- Snort

- Pant

- Snuffle

Throw any word from the top list together with one from the bottom list and you’ll find yourself ready to describe any snoring sound effect, from a sonorous wheeze to a shallow snuffle and everything in-between!

Ready to Chat About Snoring Sounds? 

snoring sounds

Well, that about covers the bases for the different ways you can present a snore — from fun adjectives and fancy nouns to regional colloquialisms, there are countless ways to talk about the grumbling snuffle of rattling the shingles. It might get a little eclectic, sure, but we all relate however we can — if it means calling a snore a turnip, or just writing zzzzzzzz, that’ll have to do, as long as the people around you can agree that we all could use a night of sleep with less snoring sounds.

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