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Words at Play

A Look at Uncommon Onomatopoeia

Some imitative words are more surprising than others


Associate Editor Serenity Carr looks at onomatopoeic words you might not expect, such as bounce and tinker.

Transcript:

When you think of the origins of a word, you think of Old English, or Old French, or Latin, or Sanskrit. But not all words come from a similar word in an older language. Some words come from imitations of the sounds associated with the thing they name. Some are obvious, like fizz, jingle, toot, and pop. Others are less obvious, like slap, bounce, tinker, and cough. So listen carefully to every grunt and murmur, to the prattle and babbling around you. You may be hearing more than just chit-chat.

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