What Is Onomatopoeia? (with Examples)
OnomatopoeiaOnomatopoeia is the use of words that imitate the sound they describe.
Easy Examples of OnomatopoeiaA lot of onomatopoeic words relate to:
- Our voices
- bawl, belch, chatter, giggle, growl, grunt, mumble, murmur, whisper
- flap, flutter, fizz, hiss, swish, swoosh, waft, whiff, whoosh, whizz
- dribble, drip, drizzle, gurgle, plop, splash, sploosh, sprinkle, squirt
- bang, clang, clank, clap, clatter, click, clink, ding, dong, jingle, jangle, screech, slap, smack, smash, thud, thump
- Animal noises
- baa, bark, buzz, cheep, chirp, cluck, meow, moo, neigh, oink, purr, quack, ribbit, tweet, warble
Real-Life Examples of Onomatopoeia
- The NASA humans-to-Mars program is all sizzle and no steak. (Robert Zubrin) (Sizzle sounds like steak frying.)
- When you put something on, you zip yourself into it, and you're secure in there. (Fashion designer L'Wren Scott) (Zip sounds like a zip being operated.)
- Love and a cough cannot be hidden. (Welsh poet George Herbert) (Cough sounds like a cough.)
- I could hear the sizzle of the sausage. (The noise itself)
- This sausage is a real sizzler. (An object)
- The sausage sizzled on the fire. (An action)
- If you tap the bottom, the cork will pop out the top. ("Pop" sounds like a cork existing a bottle.)
- If you tap your bottom, the bodyguard will pop out the room. (In this context, "pop" is not an onomatopoeic word.)
Why Should I Care about Onomatopoeia?Onomatopoeia is useful in poetry, creative writing, and even business writing as it brings writing to life by appealing to the hearing sense.
That aside, if you're analysing someone else's writing and they've used onomatopoeia, you ought to recognize it. This means you will need to spell "onomatopoeia." If you don't have access to a spellchecker, here's a tip: Trust yourself to get it right as far as the "p" and then write just the vowels in the word "comedian."