English Grammar Basic Grammar and syntax

What is onomatopoeia? (with examples)

What is onomatopoeia? (with examples)

Onomatopoeia is the use of words that mimic the sound they describe.

Easy Examples of Onomatopoeia

Many onomatopoeic words are related 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. (Aerospace engineer 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.)

Onomatopoeic words can represent the noise itself, an object or an action.

  • 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)

Una palabra con propiedad onomatopéyica en un sentido puede no tenerla en otro.

  • 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 sense of hearing.

Other than that, if you’re analyzing someone else’s handwriting and they’ve used onomatopoeia, you should own up. This means that you will have to spell“onomatopoeia“. If you don’t have access to a spell checker, here’s a tip: trust yourself to get it right until the“p“and then write just the vowels in the word“comedian“.

Key Point

If your writing could“vanish“, consider onomatopoeia to help her“chisporrot“.

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