Thursday, March 10, 2011


Just as I was thinking of a topic for this week’s blog, seven-year-old Maeve asked me if I knew what onomatopoeia words were.  Tell me, I answered, trying to recall a high school English lesson. 

Maeve then rattled off a list of onomatopoeia words taught that day in her first grade classroom: zip, boom, squish, oink and hee-haw. Onomatopoeia words sound like what they are describing - words that make noise, she explained.

I think it is terrific that first-graders here in Cedar Grove (and, I hope, elsewhere) are learning about onomatopoeia.  I went to my bookcase and checked in a couple of college handbooks but onomatopoeia was nowhere to be found.

I still have a copy of Crowell’s Hand book for Readers and Writers,  published in 1925 that my mother referred to quite often. It defines onomatopoeia as “Primarily the forming of words to suggest by their sound the object or idea presented as buzz, hiss, clack, bang, twitter.”

The Handbook pages are somewhat yellow and the cover needs repair, but I intend to someday present it to Maeve (who, incidentally, says she wants to be a writer.)

I would love to hear some of your favorite onomatopoeia words.  You can click on any number of websites, zap me your list via email, or give me a buzz.


  1. What a coincidence! I remember exactly when I learnt about onomatopoeias - 60 years ago. I, too, was seven years old and I was so very proud of knowing this long word and what it meant, though I'm sure I couldn't spell it at that time!

  2. Does 'popty-ping', the new Welsh word for a microwave, qualify?

  3. popcorn, clink, psst, poof, crunch, pshaw, titter, clunk, crystal, etc.