vocabulary builder

Onomatopoeias

An onomatopoeia is another figure of speech that refers to a word that sounds like the thing it describes, like “bang” or “click“, or animal noises such as “moo“, “hiss” or “meow“.

Onomatopoeic words exist in every language, but of course they are not the same in each.  Very often onomatopoeias are found in comics, usually typed in the background to emphasize an action. For example, a car accident will show the word “crash“, the drawing of people clapping hands at a concert will be accompanied by “clap clap“, while the drawing of someone falling into the sea or a swimming pool will 90% of the times contain the word “splash“.

What do you think of when you hear the words sniff, cough, ring, click, crack, gasp?

You probably never considered these words like REAL English words and very likely never thought of using them… well, they are! Of course, words like brambrimbrum have no meaning, but this is easily understandable!

Here is a list of some more onomatopoeias in the English language, starting from animal sounds again:

the buzz of a bee

the hiss of a snake

the growl of an angry dog

the roar of a lion

the chirp of a bird

the cock-a-doodle-doo of a rooster

the meow and purr of a cat

the moo of a cow

the woof of a dog

the hee-haw of a donkey

the squeak of a mouse

the neigh of a horse

the oink of a pig

the howl of a wolf

Other common onomatopoeias in English are

the rumble of thunder

the crunch of someone eating crisps

the rustle of leaves in the trees

the beat of a drum

the hoot of a horn

the pop of a bottle being opened

the slam of a door being closed violently

the tinkle of broken glass

Think of onomatopoeias in the Italian language. Can you find similarities of differences with the English language? What similarity or difference strikes you most?

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