: the naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it (such as buzz, hiss)
also : a word formed by onomatopoeia
In comic books, when you see someone with a gun, you know it's only going off when you read the onomatopoeias. —Christian Marclay
: the use of words whose sound suggests the sense
a study of the poet's onomatopoeia
The term hiccup is an example of onomatopoeia … —Fred Cicetti, Montague Reporter, 6 Mar. 2008 You might think it was an onomatopoeia of the sound a Frisbee makes as it moves through the air, but the name has been attributed for years to the Frisbie Pie Company of Bridgeport, Conn., which went out of business in 1958. —Mark Danna, Sports Illustrated, 11 May 1987 Buzz and hiss are examples of onomatopoeia.
Recent Examples on the Web Instead of the traditional hip-hop group format of trading verses, Migos basically traded syllables, punctuating each other’s verses and flows with shouted interjections, ad-libs, onomatopoeia or just noises. —Jem Aswad, Variety, 24 May 2023 Instead, the animal life represented here coexists peacefully in a land of idioms and the occasional onomatopoeia. —Sam Corbin, New York Times, 30 Apr. 2023 The bullet is a grim onomatopoeia for itself. —Adrian Matejka, New York Times, 15 July 2021 Mime and onomatopoeia were part of the drill. —Dan Greene, The New Yorker, 24 May 2021 Thousands of fireflies, called kelip-kelip in Malaysia — their name is a sort of visual onomatopoeia for their twinkling — can settle on riverside trees. —Joshua Sokol, Quanta Magazine, 20 Sep. 2022 His take may sound like an extreme read on a silly onomatopoeia. —Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 28 July 2022 Hori horis originated in Japan and its name is the Japanese onomatopoeia for the sound of digging in the dirt. —Leanne Potts, Better Homes & Gardens, 2 Dec. 2021 Reading his writing can be kind of like taking a psychedelic — a literary onomatopoeia. —Washington Post, 23 July 2021 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'onomatopoeia.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
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