Shelly has a Master's of Education. Most recent professional experience is an educational diagnostician. Prior, she taught for 8 years.
What Is Onomatopoeia?
Old MacDonald had a farm, E I E I O.
On this farm he had a cow, E I E I O.
With a MOO MOO, here, and a MOO MOO there...
If we sang this song about a pig, what sound would we use? OINK, OINK here and an OINK, OINK there!
How about a dog? A RUFF, RUFF here and a RUFF, RUFF there!
What do MOO, OINK and RUFF have in common? They are all examples of onomatopoeia, words written to imitate sounds.
Imagine trying to sing the song about Old MacDonald without these sound words. It doesn't seem as fun to sing, does it? These onomatopoeias add a fun element when writing and give the reader more description of the events in the story.
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Let's take a look at an example sentence that uses onomatopoeia:
- The car crashed into the tree! BAM! Then, the tree fell over.
The word BAM helps the reader 'hear' what this collision was like. In this incident, some may also hear BEEP, CRASH, THUD, CRACK, OUCH, or SCREECH.
Let's look at these sentences that don't include onomatopoeia:
- The girl hit the ball so hard, it flew into the stands. Just like that, the fans knew it was a grand slam!
These sentences are well written and give a good description. But let's try adding an onomatopoeia:
- The girl hit the ball so hard, it flew into the stands. WHACK! Just like that, the fans knew it was a grand slam!
This time we added the word WHACK. This allows the reader to imagine what the sound was like when the bat hit the ball. Try to imagine what other sounds you may hear at a baseball game. YAY and WOW are sounds of excitement we may hear from the fans. Or SWISH and ZIP are sounds we would hear as the runner quickly gets to base.
Onomatopoeia words are all around us. We have to listen to find them.
Examples of Hearing Onomatopoeia
- Let's go through an imaginary walk in a zoo. When you see a lion, what sound would you hear? Maybe a loud ROAR? When you see the monkeys, what sound would you hear? Maybe a shrill EEE-AACK AACK? Wait, what was that? HISS HISS.... this onomatopoeia helps us identify the next animal. It must be a snake!
- Imagine watching a magician. He's about to pull the rabbit out of the hat. ABRACADABRA is what we hear, just before the rabbit appears. TA-DA is what we hear after the trick is complete!
- Let's think about everyday life. What would we hear? AHCHOO, someone sneezed. CREEK, the door needs grease. YIKES, someone was surprised. BOOHOO, someone is crying because the bee is BUZZING all around.
- Think about comic books and super heroes. Most comic strips are loaded with these sound words. When we read these stories, we see words like BAM, POP, CHOP, ZONK or ZOOM. When we read these words, we can 'hear' the action of the characters.
All of these capitalized words are examples of sound words, also known as onomatopoeias!
Onomatopoeias are sound words that describe natural sounds. When these sound words are added to a story, they give the reader something to 'hear.'
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Onomatopoeia Lesson for Kids
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