The sifaka is a genus of lemur found in Madagascar. The name is an onomatopoeia of their "shi-fak" alarm call. Wikipedia 2014-02-24
diesel train. from this book:
Click here for more train sounds 2014-01-23
steam engine or train. from this book:
Click here for more train sounds 2014-01-14
steam engine or train. Click here for more train sounds 2014-01-14
sound of a washing machine , "[Aredelia] found Starling in the warm laundry room, dozing against the slow rump-rump of a washing machine." (Thomas Harris, Silence of the Lambs, 1988) 2014-01-07
dog barking. from this book:
Click here to find more dog vocalizations 2014-01-02
Word of the day
Sound uttered by a person choking. Also: argh, awk, gasp
The dog barks, the horse whinnies, but a camel ...?
Rabbit: Tigger, what on earth are you doing here?
Tigger: eey .. uhnn..
Tigger: Rabbit, I.., I mean you...when..
Tigger: (sobbing) Roo's really upset about what happened-ed today
Rabbit: Oh, I see. Roo's upset. But what about me? Look at all this mess you made, on a spring cleaning day no less!
Tigger: I'm not talking about springedy cleanaday, I am talking about -heeugh- (Rabbit stuffs a feather duster into Tiggers mouth)
Rabbit: Don't say it, Tigger, don't say it! Do not say that word in my house.
Tigger: (pulls feather duster out of his mouth) hmpf, pfegh, puuffgh. What word?
Rabbit: I refuse to say it
Tigger: If you'll not tell me what word I'm not supposed to say, then how am I gonna know not to say it? Hm, see..is it umm carrottes?
Rabbit: That's not even a word
Tigger: Onomatopoeia? (grabs dictionary) .. and that is a word
Rabbit: Why would you ever say that?
Tigger: Why wouldn't you say it? (starts singing) Onomatopoeia, onomatopoeia, onomatopoeia is an onomatopoeiaaaa ...
Rabbit: Easter! The word is Easter!
Tigger: That was going to be my next guess
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Children's stories and poetry
Exploring onomatopoeia with children fun and it helps them learn new words and concepts quickly. Below are some examples.
Also check out this list of Childrens' books with onomatopoeia
On the Ning Nang Nong, by Spike Milligan
On the Ning Nang Nong
Where the Cows go Bong!
and the monkeys all say BOO!
There's a Nong Nang Ning
Where the trees go Ping!
And the tea pots jibber jabber joo.
On the Nong Ning Nang
All the mice go Clang
And you just can't catch 'em when they do!
So its Ning Nang Nong
Cows go Bong!
Nong Nang Ning
Trees go ping
Nong Ning Nang
The mice go Clang
What a noisy place to belong
is the Ning Nang Ning Nang Nong!!
Dr Seuss uses a lot of onomatopoeia. In "Mr Brown can moo! Can you?", for example.
..He can go
like a squeaky shoe.
He can go like a rooster ...
COCK A DOODLE DOO
He can go like an owl...
HOO HOO HOO HOO
Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo
How about you?
Then there is of course the song "Old MacDonald had a farm", about farmer MacDonald and the animals he keeps on his farm. In the version commonly sung today, the lyrics allow for a substitutable animal and its respective sound:
Old MacDonald had a farm, EE-I-EE-I-O.
And on that farm he had a [animal name], EE-I-EE-I-O,
With a [animal noise twice] here and a [animal noise twice] there
Here a [animal noise], there a [animal noise], everywhere a [animal noise twice]
Old MacDonald had a farm, EE-I-EE-I-O.
Often, the noises from all the earlier verses are added to each subsequent verse which makes it more fun to sing and more challenging as the song gets longer.
Young author Marinela Reka has a beautiful site with a special heading for her onomatopoeic poems.
(excerpt from: "Noises")
The cat meowed for attention
The phone crackled by mistake
I crunched on my food
What noise do you make?
Onomatopoeia is usually cited as a poetic effect. That makes sense because poetry is all about communicating emotion using the interplay between sound and meaning. The way Edgar Allan Poe uses onomatopoeia in "The Bells" illustrates how onomatopoeic words can change the flavor of a single concept (in this case the sound of bells). In his poem, sleigh bells are "tinkling", but fire bells are "clanging", wedding bells are "chiming", while funeral bells are "tolling," "moaning," and --- "groaning".
Other examples of poems with onomatopoeia:
"Lepanto" by Chesterton
Dim drums throbbing, in the hills half heard,
Where only on a nameless throne a crownless prince has stirred,
In that enormous silence, tiny and unafraid,
Comes up along a winding road the noise of the Crusade.
Strong gongs groaning as the guns boom far,
Don John of Austria is going to the war,
For he heard drums groaning and he heard guns jar,
(Don John of Austria is going to the war.)
Meeting at Night by Robert Browning (1812-1889)
The gray sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low
And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
And quench its speed i' the slushy sand.
Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match,
And a voice less loud, through its joys and fears,
Than the two hearts beating each to each!
Although ubiquitous in comics, much of the onomatopoeia in comics remains tied to one author or character and become kind of a signature. There is even a super villain named Onomatopoeia. He imitates noises around him, such as dripping taps, gunshots etc. A nice thing about onomatopoeia is that people often make new ones, by imitating the sound and combining letters until they have something that sounds like it. In Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware, change put into a vending machine goes "CLTKTY", which is quite apt, and highly original.
Don Martin (MAD magazine) was a master of sound effects, coining many new ones such as "BREEDEET BREEDEET" for a croaking frog, "PLORTCH" for a knight being stabbed by a sword, or "FAGROON klubble klubble" for a collapsing building. Find more here
Wolfe used onomatopoeia in the prison scene from A Man in Full:
The fan overhead went scrack scrack scraaaacccckkkkk.
Grover Washington's saxophone went buhooomu-hoooooooom....
Thra-gooooom! Gluglugluglug went the toilets....
And then the tuckatuckatuckatuckatuckatucka [of spoons beating ice cream cups] began.
David A. Johnson's Snow sounds is a story built with the sounds of snow and beautiful imagery.
Joyce lets a cat say mkgnao, mrkgnao, mrkrgnao and gurrhr in Ulysses. another work of his, Finnegan's Wake, is an experimental piece written in a made-up language in which
bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonner- ronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthur- nuk! is the sound of the thunderclap associated with the fall of Adam and Eve. The word is a hybrid of words in many languages that relate to thunder.
Rudolfo Anaya in Bless Me, Ultima: .. so it struck a chord of fear in the heart to hear them hooting at night. But not Ultima's owl. Its soft hooting was like a song, and as it grew rhythmic it calmed the moonlit hills and lulled us to sleep. - The word hoot(ing) is imitative of the bird's cry and the repeated oo sound in this segment mimics the soothing sound of Ultima's owl's hooting.
Shakespeare in Hamlet: And cleave the general ear with horrid speech,
Her brother is in secret come from France;
Feeds on his wonder, keeps himself in clouds,
And wants not buzzers to infect his ear - The word buzzers can be onomatopoeia.
In Julius Ceasar, act 2, scene 1, Brutus says The exhalations whizzing in the air Give so much light that I may read by them.. - whizz(ing) is an example of onomatopoeia.
In The Tempest, Act 1 Scene 2, Ariel: Hark, hark! (Burthen [dispersedly, within]) The watch-dogs bark! (Burthen Bow-wow) Hark, hark! I hear The strain of strutting chanticleer Cry, Cock-a-diddle-dow.
- Hark Hark, Bow-wow and Cock-a-diddle-dow are onomatopoeia.
Characters in stories often have a "signature laugh". It can make the character more memorable and entertaining! Examples:
- ha-ha-ha-HA-ha! - Woody Woodpecker
- huh huh huh! - Butt-head, Beavis and Butthead
- woah, oh, oh, oh! - Elmer Fudd
and of course
- ho ho ho! - Santaclaus
More under laughter
By far the largest group of animals with onomatopoeic names is birds. Just think of the cuckcoo, chickadee, and the chiff chaff. There are many birds all over the world that people have named after the sound they make. Find onomatopoeic bird names