Onomatopoeia is when a word describes a sound and actually mimics the sound of the object or action it refers to when it is spoken.

Animal sounds are often onomatopoeic. Notice how the each of the following words imitates the sound of an animal.

arf, growl, roar, baa, hee-haw, screech, bark, hiss, snarl, bow-wow, honk, squawk, buzz, hoot, squeak, cackle, howl, tweet, caw, maa, twit, twoo, chatter, meow, warble, cheep, moo, whimper, chirp, neigh, whine, cluck, oink, whinny, cock-a-doodle-doo, peep, woof, coo, purr, yelp, cuckoo, quack, yip, gobble, ribbit, yowl

The following are examples of words to describe sounds often made by people. These bring to life what a sneeze sounds like (achoo) or how cute children sound when laughing (giggle).

achoo, gag, mumble, ahem, gargle, munch, argh, gasp, murmur, bawl, giggle, mutter, blab, groan, phew, blurt, grunt, prattle, boohoo, grumble, slurp, brrr, guffaw, sniff, burp, ha-ha, snore, chatter, hiccup, snort, chomp, huh, sob, chortle, hum, squeal, chuckle, humph, tsk, clap, hush, waffle, cough, moan, whisper, eek, mmm, yawn

The following examples are sounds you may hear as you go about your day, ranging from the sound of your alarm clock blaring to a stack of books clattering to the floor:

bam, flip, snip, bang, flutter, splash, bash, glug, splat, beep, gurgle, splatter, blare, jangle, splash, boing, jingle, splish, boink, ka-boom, splosh, boom, kerplunk, sputter, bubble, ooze, squelch, buck, ping pong, squish, bumble, pitter, patter, swoosh, bump, plink, thud, clang, plop, thump, clank, pluck, thwack, clash, poof, tick, tock, clatter, pop, tinkle, click, pow, trickle, clickety-clack, puff, vroom, clink, rattle, wallop, clunk, ring, whack, crackle ruff, wham, crash, rumble, whip, creak, rustle, whir, croak, sizzle, whiz, crunch, slap, whoop, ding dong, slash, whoosh, drip, slip, zap, fizz, slither, zing, fizzle, slop, zip, flick, smash, zoom

Onomatopoeia is common in nursery rhymes, poetry, and songs where there are few words to get an idea or feeling across.

Here are a few examples:

Horsey horsey don't you stop
Just let your feet go clippetty clop
The tail goes swish and the wheels go round
Giddy up, we're homeward bound.

        — "Horsey, Horsey," nursery rhyme


Hear the sledges with the bells-
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight,

        — "The Bells," Edgar Allan Poe


Instructions for the Quiz

Match the term with the definition.