How To Say Hippo In Other Languages: A Comprehensive Guide

Hippos, also known as hippopotamuses, are fascinating creatures that inhabit various regions across the globe. If you’re interested in learning how to say “hippo” in different languages, you’ve come to the right place! In this guide, we will explore the formal and informal ways to express “hippo” in several languages. While regional variations will be mentioned, we will primarily focus on the most commonly spoken dialects. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the linguistic adventure of hippos!

1. English: Hippo

Let’s start with the most widely spoken language, English. In English, we refer to these magnificent creatures as “hippos,” which is the abbreviated form of their full name, “hippopotamuses.”

2. Spanish: Hipopótamo

In Spanish, the word for hippo is “hipopótamo.” This term is frequently used in both formal and informal contexts. If you’re feeling playful, you might use the diminutive form, “hipopótamito,” which translates to “little hippo.”

3. French: Hippopotame

In the French language, you would say “hippopotame” to refer to a hippo. This term is used in various French-speaking regions, including France, Belgium, Switzerland, and many countries in Africa where French is spoken.

4. German: Flusspferd

In German, hippos are called “Flusspferd” which directly translates to “river horse.” This term perfectly captures the large, semi-aquatic nature of these magnificent creatures.

5. Italian: Ippopotamo

The Italian word for hippo is “ippopotamo.” This straightforward term is suitable for both formal and informal situations in Italy and other Italian-speaking regions.

6. Portuguese: Hipopótamo

Similarly to Spanish, Portuguese also uses the word “hipopótamo” to represent hippos. Whether you’re in Brazil, Portugal, or any other Portuguese-speaking country, this term will be easily understood.

7. Russian: Гиппопотам (Gippopotam)

Russian, a language spoken by millions across Eastern Europe and Central Asia, uses the term “Гиппопотам” (Gippopotam) to describe hippos. It’s important to note that Russian is written using the Cyrillic alphabet, which makes the spelling different from the English phonetic equivalent.

8. Japanese: カバ (Kaba)

When it comes to Japanese, the word for hippo is “カバ” (Kaba). This term is easy to remember and ideal for both casual and formal conversations.

9. Mandarin Chinese: 河马 (Hé Mǎ)

In Mandarin Chinese, hippos are referred to as “河马” (Hé Mǎ). This term translates directly to “river horse” – a poetic description for these water-loving animals.

10. Swahili: Kiboko

Swahili, a Bantu language spoken across many eastern and southeastern African countries, uses the term “kiboko” to denote a hippo. This word is most commonly heard in Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda, among other Swahili-speaking regions.

Informal and Regional Variations

While the above-listed terms are widely used and understood, it’s worth exploring some informal and regional variations as well. These variations may not be as commonly recognized, but they add a touch of linguistic diversity to our understanding of how different cultures refer to hippos.

African Vernaculars

In various African languages, several interesting terms for hippos exist. For instance:

  • In Zulu, a language spoken in South Africa, the term for “hippo” is “ingwenya.” This term is often associated with traditional folklore and cultural references.
  • The Xhosa language, also spoken in South Africa, uses the word “imvubu” for a hippo. This term finds its roots in the indigenous culture and showcases the unique linguistic heritage of the region.

Amazonian Indigenous Languages

Indigenous languages of the Amazon rainforest offer us further insights into the cultural diversity of hippo-related terms:

In the Tukano language, spoken by several indigenous groups in the Amazon, a hippo is referred to as “kwahrikwa.”


As we conclude our linguistic journey through various languages, we’ve discovered how to say “hippo” in different parts of the world. From the formal “hippopotamus” to the playful “hipopótamito,” each language brings a unique charm to our understanding of these fascinating creatures. Remember, language is the key to unlocking the beauty of cultural diversity, so keep exploring and embracing the unique expressions from various corners of the globe!

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