Language and Linguistics

Onomatopoeia examples sentences function characteristics


Onomatopoeia comes from the Latin onomatopoeia , which is the oral linguistic imitation or the written word or representation of a natural sound , for example, of animals, or of some noise or acoustic or even visual phenomenon, for example, a click , a zigzag . Onomatopoeia examples sentences

The onomatopoeia is a rhetorical device that is expressed by the oral or written language sound in order to represent or imitate any object, animal or phenomenon of reality. In other words, onomatopoeia is used to describe a sound by means of a word that is similar to it within a certain language.

Some examples of onomatopoeia could be “bang” to describe a shot, “boom” for an explosion, “knock knock” to knock on a door, “ring” to simulate the sound of a phone call or “quack” to imitate the squawk of a duck.

In linguistics , onomatopoeia is the phenomenon of certain linguistic signs that describe or suggest an object or action that means, directly or by any of its manifestations.

It is also the rhetorical figure that consists of a repetition or an alliteration of linguistic sounds that mimic sounds that correspond to some element of reality. Onomatopoeias are widely used in comics and comics as sound effects.

Each language has its own onomatopoeia and, although these terms or expressions arise from the imitation of the same sounds, in many cases the differences are considerable. For example, the dog that says wow , in English is woof ; the rooster that says kikirikí , in English is cock-a-doodle-doo ; the frog that says croac , in English is ribbit ; the chick that says tweet is in English tweet ; the duck that says cuac , in French is coin-coin . Onomatopoeia examples sentences

To write onomatopoeias, you should know that they do not need italics or quotes, they are usually accompanied by exclamation marks, and they are written in capital letters when you want to express a particularly loud sound.

As you can see, onomatopoeia is characterized by almost always using monosyllable words to imitate sounds. In addition, it can change according to the language in which it is expressed.

On the other hand, this literary element can be presented in two ways: visual and auditory. The comic or comic is usually a good visual reference, since its vignettes are constantly filled with onomatopoeia to give the comic more dynamism.

In relation to the etymological origin of the word onomatopoeia, it comes from the Greek word onomatopoeia , which in turn is composed of onoma that comes to be “word or sound” and by poeo that is translated as create. So, this linguistic resource is the creation of a sound through the word.

Characteristics of onomatopoeias

Onomatopoeia is characterized by the following aspects:


Although onomatopoeia is the representation of a sound through the word, it is also true that the writing and its pronunciation can vary in each language or language. In this sense, the onomatopoeia of the dog‘s barking is imitated in Spanish with a “wow”, while in English “woof” is used.


An outstanding feature of onomatopoeia is that it is generally monosyllable. This means that the sound that is represented is made up of a single syllable. For example: the “quack” emitted by the duck. Onomatopoeia examples sentences


Onomatopoeia has the characteristic of being diverse. This is said by virtue of the fact that sounds of nature, animals, people or objects can be represented or imitated. Thus, you have the “meow” of the cat, the “achis” of a person when sneezing, the “gluglú” of the water bubbles or the “ding” of a bell.

Rarity in spelling or pronunciation

A unique feature of onomatopoeia is the rarity or unusual character of the words or spellings used to represent sounds. Example: the “shhh” to indicate that silence is required.


An onomatopoeia is expressive because it can manifest certain emotional states. At the same time, this literary device can be used through repetitions and exclamations to give more dynamism to the text. Example: Beep, beep! that simulates the sound of a car horn.


Although onomatopoeias are short words, it is also true that they can be lengthened within the text or statement with the intention of giving more force to what is expressed. Example: “Yuuuujuuuu!”, This sound manifests an intense joy.


Onomatopoeia are a resource frequently used in everyday life, in the communication process of children when they are learning to speak and in comics. They are also applied by the authors in stories and poems. Example: The only sound that was heard was the “ring, ring” of the phone.

Syntactic function

An onomatopoeia can have a syntactic function within a sentence. This means that the word used to imitate a sound can be classified as a subject, predicate, or adjective. Example: The “ha ha ha” rang through the room. In this case, the sound that simulates laughter (ha ha ha) becomes the subject of the sentence.


Onomatopoeia has the function of increasing expressiveness within texts and in spoken language to give it greater intensity and strength. Onomatopoeia examples sentences

At the same time, the use of this literary resource endows the contents with dynamism, emotions, vivacity, precision and conciseness. Hence, this tool is used in all literary genres and in daily communication.

Types of onomatopoeia

Onomatopoeia can be of two types:

Visual onomatopoeia

This variety of onomatopoeia consists of representing by means of images formed by letters, words or phrases the content of which the statement is about.

Visual onomatopoeias were common in the literary avant-garde movements and were manifested through calligrams (text that forms a figure with the words that make it up).

For example, with the onomatopoeia “meow” you can make a calligram that describes the face of a cat. To this they can incorporate words of the behavior of this animal.

Currently, as we have indicated previously, the use of visual onomatopoeia is very common in the world of comics. This resource gives creativity to the accompanying texts. In turn, another channel where the use of onomatopoeia is frequent is through the well-known stories of platforms such as Instagram, Giphy or Snapchat. Onomatopoeia examples sentences

Auditory onomatopoeias

Auditory onomatopoeias are the most common, since they are used to imitate through the word the sound made by an object, animal, person or phenomenon of nature.

This type of onomatopoeia awakens the senses and emotions of the recipients by virtue of the fact that the narratives and descriptions gain meaning, rhythm, strength and intensity. In this sense, auditory onomatopoeias are used in poetry, as well as in stories and novels, without forgetting everyday use. Some of the most common are: meow or wow.

Examples of onomatopoeia

Zas (hit)

– The boy was running and, wham, that tremendous blow was heard.

Plas, plas (applause)

– The artist approached the stage and only heard the plas, plas, plas of the hands of the public.

Mmmm (to express that something is tasty)

– Maria tasted the soup and only one mmm could be heard.

Quack, quack (duck squawk)

– The duck squawked so loud that his quack, quack broke a glass in the kitchen of the house.

Quiquiriquí (the crowing of the rooster)

– I no longer want to hear that quiquiriquí. Tomorrow, if it continues like this, we will run out of rooster.

Glu, glu (the sound of drinking water)

– Do you have to make so much noise when you drink water, José? Your glu, glu, glu has me fed up!

Mmmmuuuu (mooing of the cow)

– I knew she was my beloved cow, her mmmuuu is unmistakable. Onomatopoeia examples sentences

Croa, croa (the croaking of frogs)

– It’s always the same when the full moon rises … croak, croak, croak all blessed night … I hate those toads!

Tic, toc (the sound of the clock)

– I didn’t want to believe it, it seemed a lie to me, but yes … just at 3:00 am, after the tick, knock, the spectrum appeared.

Knock, knock (the sound of knocking on the door)

– And so it stayed … knocked, knocked, knocked all night, but I never opened it.

Animal onomatopoeia

The most common onomatopoeia of animal sounds in Spanish are:

  • Chickens :  Tweet
  • Roosters :  Kikirikí
  • Hens :  clo
  • Ducks :  quack
  • Cats :  meow
  • Dogs :  wow
  • Sheep :  bee
  • Pigs :  oinc Onomatopoeia examples sentences
  • Frogs :  croac
  • Cows :  muu
  • Crickets :  cri-cri
  • Bees :  bzz
  • Snakes :  ss s
  • Horses :  iiih
  • Howls :  auu
  • Grunts :  grr

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