Figures of Speech: Onomatopoeia

Figures of Speech: Onomatopoeia

Our much-demanded blog series on English Grammar- Figures of Speech is finally here. Figures of speech come in many varieties. The aim is to use the language inventively to accentuate the effect of what is being said. Our online English tutors will provide weekly in-depth articles to help you understand them in as simple words as possible.

Most online English speaking courses in India will offer comprehensive courses that simply introduce Figures of Speech as a concept. This is primarily on account of Figures of speech being promoted for Advanced English levels only. Though they are tricky to use, we at Speechify recommend that our students learn these phrases to get that extra “edge” or dramatic effect in their English speaking abilities.

Online Spoken English classes will generally cover them in Grammar function lessons. However, we recommend that learners should attempt learning basic definitions and must be able to identify one from the other. Regular practice and learning as many examples as possible is one way you can begin your learning journey.

What are Figures of Speech?

A figure of speech is a word or phrase that entails an intentional deviation from ordinary language use in order to produce a rhetorical effect. Thus, “Figuratively” these phrases add colour, imagination and make our conversations interesting as opposed to literal language.

For example- She speaks very fast- Literal versus She speaks like a parrot- Figurative

Thus, without knowing Figures of speech you will find it tough to follow what people are saying or even present your ideas in a captivating manner. Many a times you will also see that proficient English speakers will invent newer phrases on the go and this has given rise to different types of Figures of Speech.

Let us list down few here:










Today, in our online English classes, we shall be learning about the fun sound words called Onomatopoeia, their definitions and examples.

What is an onomatopoeia?

Onomatopoeia, is the process of creating a word that phonetically imitates, resembles, or suggests the sound that it describes. Such a word itself is also called an onomatopoeia. Commonly they are also referred to as “sound words”

Common onomatopoeias include animal noises such as oink, meow, roar, and chirp. Onomatopoeia can differ between languages: it conforms to some extent to the broader linguistic system; hence the sound of a clock may be expressed as tick tock in English, dī dā in Mandarin, katchin katchin in Japanese, or tik-tik in Hindi.

Onomatopoeia termed is used for referring to the sound of the things sometimes which are not existing in reality. These sounds seem normal when they get included in a speech or narration, but if seen separately, or individually they surely grab the attention and make oneself imagine how they are discovered and built in the first place.

Role of Onomatopoeia in early language acquisition

As an online English teacher, onomatopoeias are extremely important in both first and secondary language learning. When first exposed to sound and communication, humans are biologically inclined to mimic the sounds they hear, whether they are actual pieces of language or other natural sounds. Early on in development, an infant will vary his/her utterances between sounds that are well established within the phonetic range of the language(s) most heavily spoken in their environment, which may be called "tame" onomatopoeia, and the full range of sounds that the vocal tract can produce, or "wild" onomatopoeia.

As one begins to acquire one's first language, the proportion of "wild" onomatopoeia reduces in favour of sounds which are congruent with those of the language they are acquiring.
Onomatopoeia can make a poem or piece of writing appeal to the sense of hearing. Words like bam, whoosh or slap sound just like the thing they refer to. As a reader or an observer, you would find great help in the form of Onomatopoeia as they are quite supportive in drawing the attention to the sounds that can be delivered by the words used.

Let us read some more examples here –
The jingling and the tinkling sound by the bells are used as indicator of cheerful, unworried childhood in a very famous poem by Edgar Allan Poe

Describing every possible bell sounds in this poem is considered to be the greatest creation of poet Edgar Allan Poe who has created a magic with use of Onomatopoeia words. Further to ‘The jingling and the tinkling sound by the bells’ he has also referred to rhyming and chiming of bells in context to joyous wedding bells of youthfulness
In addition, he had then gone to clamor and clangor sounds of bells while indicating at daunting awareness of the last phase of life. And last but not the least, the moaning and groaning sound of the bells is another crafted representation of funeral bells.

This is beautifully executed with the use of Onomatopoeia in his words and imagination.
Check out the formation below: -

Boing! Boing! Squeak!
Boing! Boing! Squeak!
A bouncing mouse is in my house,
it’s been here for a week…
…that mouse continues bouncing
every minute of the day,
it bounces bounces bounces, but it doesn’t bounce away…”

Examples of Onomatopoeia

Take a look at five categories of onomatopoeic examples that are commonly used to represent certain sounds.

A) Animal noises:

  1. I love to hear the chirping of birds at my window in the morning.
  2. My dog always bow-wows whenever he sees me.
  3. I heard a frog croaking in the heavy pouring rain last night.
  4. The barking of a dog could be annoying at times.
  5. He clearly heard the hissing sound of the snake in the nearby bush.
  6. My cat does meows whenever I come back from work.
  7. The roar of a lion is truly frightening and fascinating.

B) Collision or explosive sounds:

  1. The fighter plane’s boom was heard miles away!
  2. The heavy door shut with a loud clang.
  3. There was another terrible crash and something huge collapsed just after the earthquake.

C) Musical sounds:

  1. Yesterday while coming home, the continuous ‘toot’ of the horn of impatient drivers bothered me a lot.
  2. There was a loud ‘clang’ sound when I dropped the heavy pot on the floor last night.
  3. The pluck sound of the strings from his new guitar is really soothing and mesmerizing.

D) Movement of water, air, or objects:

  1. Puff of wind with some drizzling literally changed my mood and brought a happy state of mind for me
  2. He drives so fast and the ‘vroom’ of his wheels is very loud.
  3. A soft crackling sound – my sister wore such a large dress on her wedding that when she was walking down the aisle it made a gentle ‘rustle’

E) Human sounds:

  1. He caught a cough and cold, and he kept ‘sneezing’ whole night and that sound did not let me sleep.
  2. When he entered the class with such a loud ‘achoo’ due to cold, everyone started staring him.
  3. The smoke was belching so high that we could not see anything else around,
  4. He has been coughing since morning, ask him to take some medicine.

Use of Onomatopoeia as a proper noun to name animals, insects, birds, and objects:

Another interesting fact about Onomatopoeia is the name of few animals, insects, birds, and objects, let us check out the below list for the same.

  1. A stout Bobwhite is a native of Canada, the United States, Mexico.
  2. A song bird, Chickadee which is mostly found in mixed forests of North America.
  3. Cuckoo is one bird in Africa, Asia, and even Australia is known for distant features.
  4. Now, who is not familiar with bird like Owl, with 33 species mainly found in India.
  5. Another Killdeer breeds is visible in Canada and Mexico.
  6. Whippoorwill is prominent in rich moist forests again in the United States.
  7. Bumblebee, a species most common in temperate climates and there is another reference to Bumblebee tuna
  8. Katydid is a kind of bird originates in cooler as well as dried regions, for instance heath lands of Australia.
  9. Cricket is quite known for loud, persistent and chirping singing.

Onomatopoeia in Brands and Slogans:

You’re likely familiar with these onomatopoeic brands and slogans: The most famous site for search and locating anything anytime anywhere is Google. Who can miss the Tweeting on Twitter, another influence in the series of sounds?

  1. The brands like Krispy Kreme entices the buyer’s imagination for food, its texture and taste!
  2. Similar is the case for corn and oat breakfast cereal named Cap’n Crunch
  3. Pop Rocks, an absolute apt name given to a product like candy that comes with small popping reaction when it is in the liquid form.
  4. Slurpee, name given to a frozen carbonated drink to give the feel of indulgence by name itself.
  5. Another very influential reference is of ‘Tic Tacs’
  6. A toy company naming its product as Wham-O Toys to attract kids' attention,
  7. Zoom Video Communications is adding the series of onomatopoeic branding which is quite successful and widely reachable with the unique naming of sound.

Related Articles: Simile & Metaphor | Alliteration | Antithesis | Apostrophe


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