The imitation of a natural (or mechanical) sound in language. This may be found in single words (screech, babble, tick-tock) or in longer units. It is especially heard in poetry, where Pope said that ‘The sound must give an echo to the sense’; for example, ‘the slithering and grumble/as the mason mixed his mortar’ (Seamus Heaney). Different languages have different potential in this respect. Japanese has over three times as many sound symbolic expressions as English, expressing a much wider range of meanings, eg fura-fura (‘roam’) and dabu-dabu (‘baggy’).
Portions of the summary below have been contributed by Wikipedia.
In rhetoric, linguistics and poetry, onomatopoeia (also spelled onomatopia) is a figure of speech that employs a word, or occasionally, a grouping of words, that imitates the sound it is describing, and thus suggests its source object, such as “bang” or “click”, or animal such as “moo”, “quack” or “meow”.
Onomatopoeic words exist in every language, although they are different in each.
Sometimes onomatopoeic words can seem to have a tenuous relationship with the object they describe. however, because words for the same basic sound can differ considerably between languages, non-native speakers might be confused by the idiomatic words of another language.
Some animals are named after the sounds they make, especially birds such as the cuckoo and chickadee.
Examples and uses of onomatopoeia
Everyday sounds
Some other very common English-language examples include:
bang Beep Bing Boing Bonk Boom Burp Buzz Clang Cuckoo Hiccup Hiss Hush Ka-boom Mumble Murmur Ping pong Plop Poof Pop pow Ring Roar Splash Splish Splosh Swish Vroom Wham Zap Zoom

Machine sounds
Aside from the above, machines are usually described with:
Automobile – “honk” or “beep-beep” for the horn, “vroom” for the engine, “screech” for the tires Train – “clickety-clack” crossing rail splices (when tracks were individual sections, not welded), “chuga-chuga” for the steam pistons, “choo-choo” or “woo-woo” for the whistle. Cash register – “ka-ching”/“ca-ching”/“cha-ching”/“che-ching”/“ker-ching” Jet – “whoosh” Electric guitar power chord – “Kerrang” Machine – “Pocketta-pocketta”
Animal sounds
For animal sounds, these words are typically used in English:
Bird – “chirp”, “tweet” Chicken – “cluck”, “cackle”, “bawk”, “bwak”, “buck”, “puckuck” Crow – “caw” Dove – “coo”, “roo-coo” Duck – “quack” Owl – “whoo”, “hoo” or “hoot” Rooster – “cock-a-doodle-doo” Turkey – “gobble” Insects – “buzz” Bee – “buzz”, “bzzz” Mammals Buffalo – “waagh” Cat – “meow” (U.S.)/“miaow” (UK), “purr” Lion – “roar”, “rawr” Cow – “moo” Dog – “woof”, “ruff”, “arf”, “grrr”, “bow-wow” (see bark) Dolphin – “click” Donkey – “hee-haw” Horse – “neigh”, “whinny”, “snort” Human – “prattle”, “blab”, “blah blah”, “murmur”, “brouhaha”, “yadda yadda”, “ra ra ra”, “squeee”, “sarumph”, “d’oh!” Mouse/Rat – “squeak” Pig – “oink”, “wee-wee-wee”, “squeal”, “soo-wee” Sheep – “baa” Goat – “Maa” Wolf – “howl”, “arooo” Rhinocerous – “erooooo” Reptiles Snake – “hiss”, “sss” Amphibians Frog – “ribbit”, “croak” (Note: many species of frog make different calls.) Toad – “tibbur”/“tibbir”
Some of these words are used both as nouns and as verbs.
Manner imitation
In some languages onomatopoeia describes a phenomenon apart from the purely auditive.
Onomatopoeia in advertising
Advertising uses onomatopoeia as a mnemonic so consumers will remember their products:
Rice Krispies (US and UK) and Rice Bubbles (AU) – “Snap, crackle, pop” when you pour on milk. Alka-Seltzer – makes a “plop, plop, fizz, fizz” noise when dunked in water (“plink, plink, fizz” in the UK). Cocoa Puffs – a cartoon cuckoo is “cuckoo” for them. Australian/New Zealand sun safe campaign)
Onomatopoeic names
Occasionally, words for things are created from representations of the sounds these objects make. In English, for example, there is the universal fastener which is named for the onomatopoeic of the sound it makes: the zip (in the UK);
Many birds are named from the onomatopoeic link with the calls they make, such as the Bobwhite quail, Chickadee, the Cuckoo, the Whooping Crane, and the Whip-poor-will.
Some names for human cultures are derived from the sound of their apparently incomprehensible languages. After Peter explains it, he tells Bamm-Bamm from The Flintstones to take it after him, going “bam bam bam!”, after him, Bamm-Bamm tells cooker Emeril Lagasse to take it after him, where he finished it off by says “bam!”.

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