What better than an imitation of sounds to create the desired effect. Onomatopoeia is a figure of speech that enhances your writing with sound effects. Browse through the onomatopoeia examples below.
Figures of Speech : Onomatopoeia Examples
The word 'onomatopoeia' originates from the Greek word, which means to create. An onomatopoeic word describes the source of a sound. These devices bring out the flavour from words giving the situation a lively feel. Common occurrences of onomatopoeia include animal noises or noises we hear in our everyday lives; the sound from a clock, door, phone etc. The onomatopoeic tool is used so commonly that evolve quickly into a new word, until the time it is no longer regarded as onomatopoeia but a part of vocabulary itself! Comic books and cartoon strips use this figure of speech extensively as the vivid nature of some of these words/phrases creates a real life effect. Advertising and media use onomatopoeia as a mnemonic because it helps the consumer to remember and relate to the products faster. Such is the power of sounds! So steer through the examples below and taste of essence of onomatopoeia.
Examples Of Onomatopoeia
- My son swooshed the basketball into the net.
- Shuffle the paper stack again properly.
- Please do not whisper in the examination hall.
- The owl hooted as it sat in the tree.
- Boo. I scared you.
- Meow, where's my milk, cried the cat.
- The jangle of her bracelets caught his attention.
- Click, click. She made a sound with her tongue to show her displeasure.
- The rustle of the leaves startled the kids.
- Pitter-patter rain drops are falling from the sky.
- My teacher told me to shoosh, because I was making too much noise.
- The door creaked open in the old mansion.
- The tires of the sports car halted with a loud screech.
- Harry mumbled in his mouth that he was not thirsty.
- The birds like to tweet outside my window.
- Drip, drip, drip, went the faucet all day long.
- Grandma loves to hear the pitter-patter of little feet around the house.
- Zip goes the jacket.
This figure of speech is widely used in poems rather than in prose writing since it is effective in conveying unusual and vivid images.
- 'It's a jazz affair, drum crashes and cornet razzes.
The trombone pony neighs and the tuba jackass snorts.
The banjo tickles and titters too awful.
The chippies talk about the funnies in the papers.'
From'Honky Tonk in Clevelnad, Ohio' by Carl Sandburg
- Hear the sledges with the bells
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!'
From 'The Bells'by Edgar Allan Poe
- '...Three Queens with crowns of gold-and from them rose
A cry that shiver'd to the tingling stars,
And, as it were one voice, an agony
Of lamentation, like a wind, that shrills
All night in a waste land...'
From 'Morte D'Arthur'by Lord Alfred Tennyson
- "Old MacDonald had a farm, EE-I-EE-I-O.
And on that farm he had a cow, EE-I-EE-I-O,
With a moo-moo here and a moo-moo there
Here a moo there a moo everywhere a moo-moo,
Old MacDonald had a farm, EE-I-EE-I-O."....
From 'The Old Mac Donald' nursery rhyme
- Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard,
He tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred;
Tlot tlot, tlot tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hooves, ringing clear;
Tlot tlot, tlot tlot, in the distance! Were they deaf that they did not hear?
From 'The Highwayman' by Alfred Noyes
In Advertising And Media
Advertising, media and comics heavily rely on sound effects and this figure of speech exactly conveys that. Onomatopoeic words behave as mnemonics and make sure that the person remembers the catchy slogans or punch lines.
- The Nickelodeon cartoon 'Kablam's implied to be onomatopoeic as a crash.
- The marble game 'KerPlunk' is onomatopoeia for the sound of the marbles dropping when sticks have been removed.
- In 'Doctor Who' comic strips, the sound of the Tardis (clocks) is represented as Vwoooorp! Vwoooorp!
- 'Snap, Crackle, Pop' when you pour cornflakes on milk is the famous onomatopoeic slogan for the Rice Crispies cereal.
- 'Clunk Click, every trip'-this is a road safety slogan from a UK campaign which implies, click the seatbelt on after clunking the car door closed.
- The 'Dook dook' drinking sound effect is depicted in the web comicScary Go Round.
- 'Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz, oh what a relief it is', an ad for Alka Seltzer tablets when dunked in water.
- In one issue of Punisher, 'funt' was used as the sound of a fired silenced pistol.
- Marvel Comicstrademarked two words of their own invention: 'thwip!' the sound of Spider-Man's web shooter and 'snikt!' which is the switchblade-sound of Wolverine's claws locking into place.
- In the Garfield comic strips, there is a running gag about a 'splut' which is the sound of a pie hitting someone's face.
- In The Transformers, the Autobot Warpath spoke with onomatopoeia in his speech, which included 'Zowie', 'Wham', 'Bang', 'Blam', 'Zing', 'Whack', 'Zack', 'Zorch', 'Zang', 'Woosh', 'Bam', 'Zoom', 'Zap', 'Boom', 'Kazowy', 'Wow', 'Clang', 'Pow', 'Zingo', and 'Boing' among others.
- From the 1968 movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang;
Jemimah: It's called Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Truly Scrumptious: That's a curious name for a motorcar.
Jemimah: But that's the sound it makes. Listen.
It's saying chitty chitty, chitty chitty, chitty chitty, chitty chitty, chitty chitty, bang bang! chitty chitty ...
You have probably figured out the role that onomatopoeia plays in portraying feelings or expressions, to the extent that they are as effective as simple adjectives. Zip, zap and zooom!
Comment On This Article
The sound of solid door closing and the air being pushed out as the door seals. (thanks Peter!) 2017-01-03
A light tap or bump on the nose in a cute way. This word is an ideophone, meaning that it evokes the idea of sound to describe phenomena that do not necessarily have sound. While not technically onomatopoeia, it is used like onomatopoeia. know your meme 2016-12-23
Sound of sticking out one's tongue, especially to lap up something to drink. Popular with cat pictures on the internet. Blogpost about the difference between mlem and blep 2016-12-23
The sound of sticking your tongue out. Often used in cat pictures on the internet, showing a cat with tongue sticking out. 2016-12-23
sound of sliding metal on metal. verb: The metal rings schliked along the rod as I slid the curtain open to peer into the room. (thank you Larry!) 2016-01-03
The ignition of a lightsaber in Star Wars novels written by Timothy Zahn. Also: pssshhew, Tshww, PHCKSHIIIIiooW 2015-12-19
Sounds of a lightsaber (Star Wars movies) Reddit 2015-12-19
The sound of an activated but motionless lightsaber in Star Wars movies. Also: nnnnnnnn Reddit 2015-12-15
Sound of a lightsaber swinging through the air in Star Wars movies. Also:vrãu, vrãu Reddit 2015-12-15
Ignition of a lightsaber in Star Wars movies. Also: Tshww, pssshhew Reddit
Ignition of a lightsaber in Star Wars movies. Also: PHCKSHIIIIiooW Reddit
The sound of a lightsaber being shoved into a door to melt it (Star Wars movies) 2015-12-15
Word of the day
1. To hum or sing softly. 2. To sing popular songs in a soft, sentimental manner. 3. (Scottish) To roar or bellow. Possibly of imitative origin. Originally "to bellow like a bull" as well as "to utter a low, murmuring sound" Etymonline
Verbs for animal sounds
The dog barks, the horse whinnies, but a camel ...?
Rabbit: Tigger, what on earth are you doing here?
Tigger: eey .. uhnn..
Tigger: Rabbit, I.., I mean you...when..
Tigger: (sobbing) Roo's really upset about what happened-ed today
Rabbit: Oh, I see. Roo's upset. But what about me? Look at all this mess you made, on a spring cleaning day no less!
Tigger: I'm not talking about springedy cleanaday, I am talking about -heeugh- (Rabbit stuffs a feather duster into Tiggers mouth)
Rabbit: Don't say it, Tigger, don't say it! Do not say that word in my house.
Tigger: (pulls feather duster out of his mouth) hmpf, pfegh, puuffgh. What word?
Rabbit: I refuse to say it
Tigger: If you'll not tell me what word I'm not supposed to say, then how am I gonna know not to say it? Hm, see..is it umm carrottes?
Rabbit: That's not even a word
Tigger: Onomatopoeia? (grabs dictionary) .. and that is a word
Rabbit: Why would you ever say that?
Tigger: Why wouldn't you say it? (starts singing) Onomatopoeia, onomatopoeia, onomatopoeia is an onomatopoeiaaaa ...
Rabbit: Easter! The word is Easter!
Tigger: That was going to be my next guess
more video »
Children's stories and poetry
Exploring onomatopoeia with children fun and it helps them learn new words and concepts quickly. Below are some examples.
Also check out this list of Childrens' books with onomatopoeia
On the Ning Nang Nong, by Spike Milligan
On the Ning Nang Nong
Where the Cows go Bong!
and the monkeys all say BOO!
There's a Nong Nang Ning
Where the trees go Ping!
And the tea pots jibber jabber joo.
On the Nong Ning Nang
All the mice go Clang
And you just can't catch 'em when they do!
So its Ning Nang Nong
Cows go Bong!
Nong Nang Ning
Trees go ping
Nong Ning Nang
The mice go Clang
What a noisy place to belong
is the Ning Nang Ning Nang Nong!!
Dr Seuss uses a lot of onomatopoeia. In "Mr Brown can moo! Can you?", for example.
..He can go
like a squeaky shoe.
He can go like a rooster ...
COCK A DOODLE DOO
He can go like an owl...
HOO HOO HOO HOO
Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo
How about you?
Then there is of course the song "Old MacDonald had a farm", about farmer MacDonald and the animals he keeps on his farm. In the version commonly sung today, the lyrics allow for a substitutable animal and its respective sound:
Old MacDonald had a farm, EE-I-EE-I-O.
And on that farm he had a [animal name], EE-I-EE-I-O,
With a [animal noise twice] here and a [animal noise twice] there
Here a [animal noise], there a [animal noise], everywhere a [animal noise twice]
Old MacDonald had a farm, EE-I-EE-I-O.
Often, the noises from all the earlier verses are added to each subsequent verse which makes it more fun to sing and more challenging as the song gets longer.
Young author Marinela Reka has a beautiful site with a special heading for her onomatopoeic poems.
(excerpt from: "Noises")
The cat meowed for attention
The phone crackled by mistake
I crunched on my food
What noise do you make?
Onomatopoeia is usually cited as a poetic effect. That makes sense because poetry is all about communicating emotion using the interplay between sound and meaning. The way Edgar Allan Poe uses onomatopoeia in "The Bells" illustrates how onomatopoeic words can change the flavor of a single concept (in this case the sound of bells). In his poem, sleigh bells are "tinkling", but fire bells are "clanging", wedding bells are "chiming", while funeral bells are "tolling," "moaning," and --- "groaning".
Other examples of poems with onomatopoeia:
"Lepanto" by Chesterton
Dim drums throbbing, in the hills half heard,
Where only on a nameless throne a crownless prince has stirred,
In that enormous silence, tiny and unafraid,
Comes up along a winding road the noise of the Crusade.
Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far,
Don John of Austria is going to the war,
For he heard drums groaning and he heard guns jar,
(Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
Meeting at Night by Robert Browning (1812-1889)
The gray sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low
And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
And quench its speed i' the slushy sand.
Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match,
And a voice less loud, through its joys and fears,
Than the two hearts beating each to each!
More: "The Congo" and other poems by Vachel Lindsay, "Come down, O maid" and "The charge of the heavy brigade" both by Alfred Lord Tennyson, "The night wind" by Eugene Field.
Although ubiquitous in comics, much of the onomatopoeia in comics remains tied to one author or character and become kind of a signature. There is even a super villain namedOnomatopoeia. He imitates noises around him, such as dripping taps, gunshots etc. A nice thing about onomatopoeia is that people often make new ones, by imitating the sound and combining letters until they have something that sounds like it. In Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware, change put into a vending machine goes "CLTKTY", which is quite apt, and highly original.
Don Martin (MAD magazine) was a master of sound effects, coining many new ones such as "BREEDEET BREEDEET" for a croaking frog, "PLORTCH" for a knight being stabbed by a sword, or "FAGROON klubble klubble" for a collapsing building. Find more here
Tom Wolfe used onomatopoeia in the prison scene from A Man in Full:
The fan overhead went scrack scrack scraaaacccckkkkk.
Grover Washington's saxophone went buhooomu-hoooooooom....
Thra-gooooom! Gluglugluglug went the toilets....
And then the tuckatuckatuckatuckatuckatucka [of spoons beating ice cream cups] began.
David A. Johnson's Snow sounds is a story built with the sounds of snow and beautiful imagery.
James Joyce lets a cat say mkgnao, mrkgnao, mrkrgnao and gurrhr in Ulysses. another work of his, Finnegan's Wake, is an experimental piece written in a made-up language in which
bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonner- ronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthur- nuk! is the sound of the thunderclap associated with the fall of Adam and Eve. The word is a hybrid of words in many languages that relate to thunder.
Rudolfo Anaya in Bless Me, Ultima: .. so it struck a chord of fear in the heart to hear them hooting at night. But not Ultima's owl. Its soft hooting was like a song, and as it grew rhythmic it calmed the moonlit hills and lulled us to sleep. - The word hoot(ing) is imitative of the bird's cry and the repeated oo sound in this segment mimics the soothing sound of Ultima's owl's hooting.
William Shakespeare in Hamlet: And cleave the general ear with horrid speech, Her brother is in secret come from France; Feeds on his wonder, keeps himself in clouds, And wants not buzzers to infect his ear - The word buzzers can be onomatopoeia.
In Julius Ceasar, act 2, scene 1, Brutus says The exhalations whizzing in the air Give so much light that I may read by them.. - whizz(ing) is an example of onomatopoeia.
In The Tempest, Act 1 Scene 2, Ariel: Hark, hark! (Burthen [dispersedly, within]) The watch-dogs bark! (Burthen Bow-wow) Hark, hark! I hear The strain of strutting chanticleer Cry, Cock-a-diddle-dow.
- Hark Hark, Bow-wow and Cock-a-diddle-dow are onomatopoeia.
Characters in stories often have a "signature laugh". It can make the character more memorable and entertaining! Examples:
- ha-ha-ha-HA-ha! - Woody Woodpecker
- huh huh huh! - Butt-head, Beavis and Butthead
- woah, oh, oh, oh! - Elmer Fudd
and of course
- ho ho ho! - Santaclaus
More under laughter
By far the largest group of animals with onomatopoeic names is birds. Just think of the cuckcoo, chickadee, and the chiff chaff. There are many birds all over the world that people have named after the sound they make. Find onomatopoeic bird names
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