Onomatopoeia is a word which mimics the sound it represents. Unlike most words whose connection to the meaning which the word represents is abstract, onomatopoeias have a direct connection to the words they represent. Onomatopoeias are used in poetry, comic books, advertising, and even in everyday speech. We’ve comprised a huge list of onomatopoeia so that you can understand the various uses of these special words. Make sure you say these out loud so you hear them!
- cock a doodle doo
- crash symbol
- tap shoes
Onomatopoeia in poems
• The Bells – Edgar Allan Poe
How they clang, and clash, and roar!
• Storm – Olisha Starr
“Booming and Banging thunder in the air
Crashing and Rumbling waves against wet rock
Bombing and scraping, lighting the sky
Swishing and Sloshing rain on a windscreen
Metallic thuds on a tin roof
Swishing and Swooshing the flooding roads
Howling and Moaning, wind attacking
Wavering, Crashing and Sizzling
Thudding and Banging hail on every window
Slamming and Echoing
doors in the house
• Morte D’Arthur – Alfred Lord Tennyson
Of lamentation, like a wind, that shrills
• Honkey Tonk in Cleveland – Carl Sandburg
It’s a jazz affair, drum crashes and cornet razzes.
The trombone pony neighs and the tuba jackass snorts.
• The Highwayman – Alfred Noyes
Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard,
He tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred;
• The Tempest Act 3 Scene 2 – William Shakespeare
Sometimes a thousand twanging instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
• Henry V Act 3 Scene 1 – William Shakespeare
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Onomatopoeia in movies
- “Pity about poor Catherine, though. Tick-tock, tick-tock.” – Hannibal Lector Silence of the Lambs
- “Pow!” The Joker, making an explosion sound before blowing up a hospital. – The Dark Knight
- “Ding-dong the witch is dead!” – The Wizard of Oz
- “And like that, poof, he’s gone.” – The Usual Suspects
Onomatopoeia in Songs
- “Boom, boom, boom. Even brighter than the moon” – Fireworks – Katy Perry
- “I got that boom boom pow.” – Boom Boom Pow – Black Eyed Peas
- “Coming out your mouth with your blah, blah, blah.” – Blah Blah Blah – Ke$ha
- “Bang bang, my baby shot me down.” – Bang Bang – Nancy Sinatra, as heard in Kill Bill
- “My baby’s got humor, used to giggle at a funeral” – Take Me to Church – Hozier
Onomatopoeia in Famous Speeches
• I Have A Dream – Martin Luther King Jr.
I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification…
• A Tryst with Destiny – Jawaharlal Nehru
At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.
Onomatopoeias are useful and auditory-stimulating words. Their power to evoke meaning lies in their mimicry of the sounds which they represent. Because text has the limitation of conveying sensory details through the filter of imagination, writers must use onomatopoeia from time to time in order to convey a more exact meaning. Furthermore, having a separate word to designate a sound makes it much easier to communicate sound. Just as we have words for how things look, smell, feel, and taste, we also have words for sounds. However, every word that describes a sound is not an onomatopoeia. How many onomatopoeias can you identify in poems, stories, advertisements, and everyday speech?