Definition of Onomatopoeia
Onomatopoeia pronounced: \ˌä-nə-ˌmä-tə-ˈpē-ə, -ˌma-\
Onomatopoeia is the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named. For example, onomatopoeia is the hum of the bees, the pop of a balloon, or the tweet of a bird. The word Onomatopoeia can also be used to describe the use of such words for rhetorical effect. For example, in the sentence 'The poet Tennyson used onomatopoeia as a linguistic device' (see an example of Tennyson using onomatopoeia below).
Onomatopoeia and its derivative words
The adjective onomatopoeic is used in the sentence: "Woof is an example of an onomatopoeic word."
The adverb onomatopoeically is used in the sentence: "She lived her life onomatopoeically ...whoopy!"
Onomatopoeia in jokes
Onomatopoeia can be used as a linguistic device in many types of writings including jokes. Do you remember the old Knock-Knock jokes, even the name of this type of joke is another example of onomatopoeia.
What about the joke:
Don't cry, I was only joking
...you guessed it, another example of onomatopoeia
Onomatopoeia in poems
Onomatopoeia is also used by poets to convey their subject to the reader. For example, in the last lines of Sir Alfred Tennyson's poem 'Come Down, O Maid', m and n sounds produce an atmosphere of murmuring insects:
... the moan of doves in immemorial elms,
And murmuring of innumerable bees.
Onomatopoeia in poems (more examples)
Onomatopoeia in nursery rhymes
Examples of onomatopoeia are also commonly found in children’s nursery rhymes. Onomatopoeic words produce strong images that can both delight and amuse kids when listening to their parents read poetry. Some examples of onomatopoeia poems for children are:
Baa Baa Black Sheep (with every "Baa Baa" of the sheep onomatopoeia is used in this nusery rhyme)
Old Macdonald (similarly, every "Moo Moo" and "Neigh Neigh" in this nursery rhyme exemplifies onomatopoeia)
Both of these poems use onomatopoeic representations of animal noises to entertain. There are many other examples of onomatopoeia found in kid's poetry, see if you can hear them next time you listen to a nursery rhyme.
Searching for examples of onomatopoeia
To use this website to search for examples of onomatopoeia scroll back to the top of the page click on a letter given on the right-hand search menu, if you click on 'A' it will take you to onomatopoeic words beginning with 'A'. Or, you can use the menu at the top of the page to link you to examples of onomatopoeia in letter ranges A-F, G-M, N-S, and T-Z. If you also want the definition of these onomatopoeic words then simply click on the word to be taken to its definition.
We hope you find our examples of onomatopoeia useful and enjoy using this resource