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What is Onomatopoeia

What is Onomatopoeia
What is onomatopoeia? It's all around us and we use it more often than we realize. Want to learn more about onomatopoeia? Then keep reading...
Sheetal Mandora
What is onomatopoeia? We can understand the answer to this question from various angles, but the explanation that I'm familiar with is - when a word, any word is created to help describe an item, name, action, or thing, it takes on the name from the sound it makes.
But let me remind you that onomatopoeia is not similar to cacophony (a loud, blaring noise) or euphony (a harmonious and pleasing sound, i.e. music). Onomatopoeia takes on the challenge of making sense of various sounds which we hear around us. Now that we know what onomatopoeia is, why don't we see a few examples of the same.
Examples of Onomatopoeia
To help the kids learn the meaning and usage of onomatopoeia, we have provided a table with different words. Go through the list with them and see if they can identify when and how these sounds are made.
  • Achoo
  • Ahem
  • Baa
  • Bah
  • Bam
  • Bang
  • Bark
  • Bash
  • Bawl
  • Beep
  • Belch
  • Blare
  • Blurt
  • Boing
  • Boink
  • Bong
  • Bonk
  • Boo
  • Boom
  • Bubble
  • Bump
  • Buzz
  • Chatter
  • Cheep
  • Chirp
  • Clang
  • Clank
  • Clap
  • Clatter
  • Click
  • Clink
  • Cluck
  • Clunk
  • Crackle
  • Crunch
  • Cuckoo
  • Ding
  • Drip
  • Eek
  • Fizz
  • Flick
  • Flutter
  • Giggle
  • Growl
  • Gurgle
  • Hack
  • Hiccup
  • Hiss
  • Honk
  • Huh
  • Hum
  • Itch
  • Jangle
  • Knock
  • La
  • Meow
  • Moo
  • Mumble
  • Murmur
  • Neigh
  • Oink
  • Ouch
  • Ow
  • Phew
  • Ping
  • Plop
  • Plunk
  • Poof
  • Pop
  • Purr
  • Quack
  • Rattle
  • Roar
  • Rumble
  • Rustle
  • Screech
  • Shuffle
  • Shush
  • Sizzle
  • Slap
  • Slash
  • Slurp
  • Smack
  • Sniff
  • Snip
  • Snort
  • Splash
  • Squelch
  • Squish
  • Swoosh
  • Thud
  • Thump
  • Ticktock
  • Tinkle
  • Tsk
  • Twang
  • Tweet
  • Ugh
  • Vroom
  • Whack
  • Wham
  • Whip
  • Whisper
  • Whizz
  • Whoop
  • Whoosh
  • Woof
  • Yikes
  • Zap
  • Zing
  • Zip
  • Zoom
Examples of Onomatopoeia in Literature
I hope that after going through the table above, you have understood which words make up for onomatopoeia. Apart from using these words in our daily lives, onomatopoeia words are used in literary work as well. There are various nursery rhymes, poems by famous poets, and literary works that stand as renowned examples of onomatopoeia in literature. And here are few of them.
...And who tolling, tolling, tolling,
In that muffled monotone,
Feel a glory in so rolling
On the human heart a stone...
~ Edgar Allan Poe, The Bells
...The moan of doves in immemorial elms,
And murmuring of innumerable bees.
~ Alfred Lord Tennyson,Murmuring of Innumerable Bees
The rusty spigot sputters,
utters a splutter,
spatters a smattering of drops,
gashes wider;
finally stops sputtering
and splash!
gushes rushes splashes
clear water dashes.
~ Eve Merriam
Baa baa black sheep, have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full!
One for the master, one for the dame,
And one for the little boy who lives down the lane.
~ Nursery Rhyme
...My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,
Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream...
~ Francis Thompson,The Hound of Heaven
It shushes
It hushes
The loudness in the road.
It flitter-twitters,
And laughs away from me.
It laughs a lovely whiteness,
And whitely whirs away,
To be
Some otherwhere,
Still white as milk or shirts,
So beautiful it hurts.
~ Gwendolyn Brooks, Cynthia in the Snow
...Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard,
And he tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred...
~ Alfred Noyes, The Highwayman
...And ere three shrill notes the pipe uttered,
You heard as if an army muttered;
And the muttering grew to a grumbling;
And the grumbling grew to a mighty rumbling;
And out of the houses the rats came tumbling.
~ Robert Browning, The Pied Piper of Hamelin
The world of English language is filled with wondrous surprises. And with onomatopoeia, we got to know a little more about it. Anytime, in the future, you'd like to explain yourself or a situation, perhaps these words can be some help to make it more clear.