What Is Onomatopoeia? (with Examples)

Onomatopoeia is the term for a word that imitates the sound it describes.

The vast majority of onomatopoeic words relate to one of the following:
  • Our Voices (e.g., murmur, growl, whisper)
  • Air (e.g., hiss, swish, whoosh)
  • Animal Noises (e.g., meow, moo, oink)
  • Water (e.g., drip, slosh)
  • Collisions (e.g., bang, clap, smash)
onomatopoeia examples

Examples of Onomatopoeia

Here are some examples of onomatopoeia:
  • The sausages are sizzling away nicely.
  • (The word sizzle sounds like sausages frying in pan.)
  • The cork pops off the top of the bottle.
  • (A word pop sounds like a cork existing a bottle.)
  • You can hear them whispering.
  • (The word whisper sounds like whispering.)
  • Undo the zip.
  • (The word zip sounds like a zip being operated.)

Onomatopoeia in Words Representing Sounds, Objects, and Actions

Often, onomatopoeic words are the names of sounds. Words like bang, clap, and pop are used to describe the sound of the event. Words for animal noises (e.g., cluck, quack, and woof) are used in the same way.

Here are some more examples:
  • She hated the clap of thunder.
  • That cow always seems to do a moo on the hour. It's like a cuckoo cow.
There are, however, lots of examples of onomatopoeia that are not used to describe sounds directly but actions and objects.
  • She has a terrible cough.
  • The cars zoomed past.
In fact, most onomatopoeic words can be used to represent the sound directly, an object, or an action.
  • I could hear the sizzle.
  • (The noise itself)
  • The pork sizzled on the fire.
  • (An action that sounds like the noise)
  • The pork is a sizzler.
  • (An object that sounds like the noise)

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