Animal Names: Male, Female, and Young

Updated April 2, 2021 | Factmonster Staff

Names for male animals, female animals, and baby animals

In addition to normal animal names, many of the most common animals have different names for male and female animals, and for young ones. Some of them can be pretty strange, or they don't get used much; you might not hear someone call a turkey a "gobbler," or a ferret a "hob," but those are both real names. So, we're gonna give you a list of some of the common words for animals of different genders.

Why do we call them different things?

The origin of different animal names in English dates back a really long time. There isn't really any special reason for the different names that we use, although we can sometimes figure out some explanations.

It's most common for animals that have important jobs; because male bovines and female bovines have different jobs, we call them Bulls and Cows. A rooster and a hen do different jobs (chickens), so do stallions and mares (horses).

After that we reuse a lot of names for similar groups of animals. Bulls and Cows can described bovines, elephants, giraffes, and camels. Peafowl are called peacocks and peahens, like chickens with "pea" in front. We call lots of baby animals cubs, kits, and kids (including human kids!).

It's like how we use different names for animal groups (or "collective nouns") but the history is a lot different. Animal group names, like a "skein" of geese or a "pod" of dolphins, comes from hunters hundreds of years ago. People invented "proper" terminology to separate their upper-class sport hunting from what common people did for food; rich people and poor people hunted geese, but a poor person probably didn't know that the "proper" term was "skein."

AnimalMaleFemaleYoung
AssJackJennyFoal
BearBoarSowCub
CatTomQueenKitten
CattleBullCowCalf
ChickenRoosterHenChick
DeerBuckDoeFawn
DogDogBitchPup
DuckDrakeDuckDuckling
ElephantBullCowCalf
FoxDogVixenCub
GooseGanderGooseGosling
HorseStallionMare/FillyFoal
LionLionLionessCub
RabbitBuckDoeBunny
SheepRamEweLamb
SwanCobPenCygnet
SwineBoarSowPiglet
TigerTigerTigressCub
WhaleBullCowCalf
WolfDogBitchPup
Source: James G. Doherty, general curator, The Wildlife Conservation Society.