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Onomatopoeia Posted by on May 20, 2012 in English Language, English Vocabulary

This is a really fun word to say in English!  Click here and you should be connected to a link where you can hear how to pronounce this word correctly.  What does this funny word mean?  Onomatopoeia is the word we use to describe words that imitate or suggests the source of the sound that is being made.  Most of the words we use in English to describe animal sounds are examples of onomatopoeia.  (This is true in most languages.)  There are a lot of other words in English that are also onomatopoetic, for examples:

brrring: the sound an alarm clock makes
ding-dong: the sound a doorbell makes
chug-a-chug-a choo choo: the sound a train makes

Today I am going to focus on some verbs that I refer to as “noisy verbs” because they are all onomatopoeic verb, i.e. verbs that are used to express the sounds of different objects.  Tomorrow I’ll write more about onomatopoetic verbs for animal sounds.

Please note: A lot of these verbs are fun to say, saying them may even make you smile.  Have fun pronouncing them!

to beep: a sound made by a horn or an electronic device
For example: All the drivers stuck in traffic were beeping their car horns.

to boo: a sound made to show contempt, scorn, or disapproval
For example: The crowd booed the comedian because they didn’t like his jokes.

to clang: a loud, resonant, metallic sound made by hitting two metal objects together
For example: Could you please be quiet? You’re clanging of those pots and pans is going to wake up the baby.

to click: a brief, sharp sound made by something small like a door latch or mechanical device like the keys on a computer keyboard or a computer mouse
For example: I realized I forgot my keys as the door clicked closed behind me.

to crunch: the sound made when chewing or stepping on something hard and/or dry
For example: The icy snow crunched underneath my feet.

to hum: a continuous low droning sound coming from a person or machine
For example: I hum songs to myself as I do the cleaning around the house.

to gurgle: an irregular bubbling sound associated with water
For example: I could hear the small brook gurgling in the background.

to puff: a brief sudden emission of air, vapor, or smoke
For example: Jack was puffing hard after his long 10 mile run.

to rattle: to make a quick succession of short sounds associated with shaking
For example: The broken parts rattled around inside the clock when I shook it.

whoosh: the sound made by a swift or explosive rush of air
For example: The air whooshed out of the tire after we ran over a nail.

Can you think of any more examples of onomatopoeia or “noisy verbs” in English?  If so, please post them as a comment.

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About the Author:Gabriele

Hi there! I am one of Transparent Language's ESL bloggers. I am a 32-year-old native English speaker who was born and raised in the United States. I am living in Washington, DC now, but I have lived all over the US and also spent many years living and working abroad. I started teaching English as a second language in 2005 after completing a Master's in Applied Linguists and a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults' (CELTA). Since that time I have taught ESL in the United States at the community college and university level. I have also gone on to pursue my doctorate in psychology and now I also teach courses in psychology. I like to stay connected to ESL learners around the world through Transparent Languages ESL Blog. Please ask questions and leave comments on the blog and I will be sure to answer them.


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