My kids and I love this word and all the sound words that come with it. So, I thought I would take a break (EEP) from everything else to do something fun.
I’m sure plenty of you already know this word, but if you don’t, well, you should and will.
Hah! Yes, really.
Onomatopoeia comes from the Greek word onomatopoiia, meaning “the making of a word.” The Greek breaks down into the roots onoma, for “word,” and poiein, for “make.” (Poet, poetry, poem also derive from poiein.)
So, what is onomatopoeia? It’s a word that describes the sound something makes and is formed by imitating the sound. As Jack Hartmann says in the video below, “It’s a word that makes NOISE!”
Like when you drink something: GLUGLUGGLUG. Gulp.
Or maybe you sluuuuuuuuurp? Okay, just slurp is the correct spelling but it’s fun to play.
If you press your ear to your tummy after you drink, you might hear gurgle gurgle.
What if you drop your cup? SMACK or maybe Thunk!
What if it breaks? CRASH! kablam! shatter!
Better wipe that up. Swish, whish, whoosh?
Yeah, I’m playing some more. Spellcheck doesn’t always like onomatopoeia because you can get creative/inventive when you’re spelling sounds. Hmm …
Wait! Don’t forget to brush and whisk up the shard if you broke it! Phew!
Oh, and squeeze out the dish towel, please. Squish. Squelch.
Of course, it’s still a little wet and makes a satisfying PLOP when you drop it in the sink or on the counter. (Unless your my husband, who smooths it out flat to dry properly. I’ll ask him what that sounds like and get back to you.)
You most often see onomatopoeia in comic books and other illustrated texts, right? (They pop up in the original Batman episodes, too! KA-POW!)
You can read and use them anywhere though.
And they’re so much fun! Kids LOVE them so long as you don’t pack too many in and get them all tongue-tied … unless the point is to get them tongue-tied.
Dr. Seuss, anyone?
As Dr. Seuss and Mr. Brown illustrate, animals are super-duper-stupendiferous characters to bring to life with onomatopoeia. My Wicked Cat, for example, has a lot to say, and he says it in so many ways: MREOW hiss pfft PFFT yeowowowow mewwwww purr purrrrrr rrrrr meow?
Plus, cats make other noises. They pitter patter, pat pat, tap tap, swish their tails, and more. Our other cat Izzie Isabella squeaks a lot. In fact, sometimes, we call her Sir Squeaks-a-Lot! Heeheehee.
Did you know that cats speak different languages?
What about their canine pals? They bark, growl, GRR, yip yip, ruff ruff, ARF ARF, whine, whimper, snarl, and more!
And outside, right this minute, I hear blackbirds caw-caw-cawing and swallows warbling and something cheeping. No woodpeckers pecking though.
That makes me sad. Sniffle.
It’s not fair. I want woodpeckers. Huff! Stomp stomp stomp tromp flump …
Yep, onomatopoeia rocks! (What sound does a rock make? It skip-skip-skips across the surface of the water if I make a good toss. Ping! It clanked against something metal, I think.) But you writers already know that.
Oops! YOWSA. Did I get off track! I wanted to provide some links to different lists because there are soooo many great onomatopoeia resources out there, but as usual, I got distracted. Whoopsies! (I never say, “Whoopsies.” That’s a first.)
My alarm—BEEPBEEPBE—Nooooo! I do not like that, Sam-I-am. SLAM! (That’s the sound of my roommate once-upon-a-college shutting off the most annoying alarm ever.)
Brriiiiiing! Brriiiiiiing! That’s better. No buzzing, tinkling or jingling alarms, please. None of that cascading falls either. Bubbling, burbling, babbling, rambling brooks are NOT alarming! I don’t care how much they crescendo. Good old fashioned ringing will do.
Anyways, my alarm says I need to get back to “real” work now. Meh. Whatever that is. Blech. Ugh. Argh.
So, VROOOM!—Whoah! too fast!—onward to …
Ta-Daaah! Resources (a.k.a handy onomatopoeia-fied lists you might enjoy)
- Searchable resource from Written Sound
- A fun list from a illustrator Kathy Temean
- 150 examples from vocabulary.com
- Glossary of sound effects from Boom Box Post
- A mix of examples from LiteraryDevices.com
- Another fun mix of examples from YourDictionary.com
- Onomatopoeia List and more
- Last one, from ThinkWritten, but there are so many more …
And a sing-a-long from Jack Hartmann:
Later, alligator! CHOMP! Ouch! Sigh.