June 24, 2011
- onomatopoeia (noun)
- What does it mean?
- 1 : formation of words in imitation of natural sounds2 : the use of words whose sound suggests the sense
- How do you use it?
- The poet used onomatopoeia for effect, including words such as "crack," "snap," and "taut" to convey tension.
- Are you a word wiz?
Let's see if you can recognize a word formed to imitate a sound. Which of the words below do you think is an example of onomatopoeia?If you've ever heard the whippoorwill, a bird related to the nighthawk, you know that it is named for its loud call that sounds like "whip-poor-will." Two more bird names formed by onomatopoeia are "bobwhite" and "chickadee," while "katydid" and "cricket" are two onomatopoeic insect names. Many words for animal sounds are imitative in origin as well, such as "buzz," "hiss," "gobble," and "hee-haw." But don't get the idea that onomatopoeia is limited to words having to do with animals. Many imitative words have nothing to do with animals at all. Some examples are "jingle," "mumble," "plop," "strum," "splat," and "thump."