Onomatopoeia might sound like a mouthful (it’s pronounced uh-mat-uh–pee–uh) but we use them everyday, sometimes without even knowing it. Onomatopoeia are words that mimic the sounds or noises that they refer to.
It could be the sound of animals (moo, meow, or woof), human sounds (achoo, haha, grr) or sounds that objects make (bam, pop, tick-tock).
Here in this article, we’ll talk about some of the most common English onomatopoeia. It would be fun to compare them with the equivalent words in your language, too!
English Onomatopoeia: Human Sounds
First we have words for sounds that people like you and I make. From sleeping sounds to sneezing, laughing, and eating, let’s check them all out here.
|ahem||sound of clearing throat|
|argh||expression of annoyance or frustration|
|babble||to utter meaningless sounds|
|barf||the sound of puking|
|brrr||sound of shivering|
|burp||expel gas from the stomach through the mouth|
|cackle||a loud, unpleasant laugh|
|chomp||sound of bite or chew|
|clap||the sound you make when you strike both palms together|
|growl||low rumbling sound|
|gulp||sound of swallowing|
|harumph||expression of disdain or protest|
|haha||sound of laughter|
|gargle||the act of bubbling liquid in the mouth|
|grrr||sound of anger|
|hum||sing with closed lips|
|hush||sound of being quiet or still|
|slam||to close violently|
|screech||sharp piercing cry|
|shush||the sound of silencing someone|
|shh||sound of silencing|
|smack||the sound when you hit something or someone|
|tsk||a sound of disapproval|
English Onomatopoeia: Sounds Made by Objects
Sounds that objects make also make up a huge list of onomatopoeia. This could be sounds from collisions, explosions, liquids, electricity, or vehicles among others. Let’s check them out now.
|ba dum tss||Imitating a drum roll and cymbal crash played to underscore a joke|
|bang||the sound of an explosion or a gunshot|
|boom||the sound of an explosion|
|beep||a high-pitched signal|
|beep-beep||car horn sound|
|clink||sound of glass on glass|
|flutter||sound of rapid motion|
|fizz||the sound of gas escaping from a drink or any liquid|
|honk||sound of car horn|
|ring-ring||sound of a phone ringing|
|smash||sound of a collision|
|splash||sound of object falling on water|
|Tick tick tick||sound of a timer|
|tick tock||sound of a clock|
|thud||a dull, heavy sound like a big object falling|
|vroom||sound of an engine revving|
|zap||sound of electric discharge|
English Onomatopoeia: Animal Sounds
Finally, we’re down to the animal sounds. From the meowing cat to the hiss of a snake, let’s review what animal sounds are called in English.
|baa||goat / sheep|
|buzz||insects like bees, mosquitoes, or flies|
|woof / bow-wow||a sound of a dog's bark|
Learning about onomatopoeia in English can help you with your reading comprehension especially when you indulge in comic books and children’s stories. These words are also quite common in everyday conversations and they make storytelling quite fun!
What other words should we add on this list? And how different are these words to your native language? Do share with us in the comments!