Examples of Onomatopoeia

Words that imitate the sounds or noises they refer to are examples of onomatopoeia.

At the intersection where noise meets language, we have a wonderful collection of words in English that are imitations of the sounds they represent. We hear the boom of an explosion, the roar of a jet, and the hiss of a snake. Some of these words can also function as verbs: Birds chirp, sirens blare, and cars crash. Words that are imitations of the sounds they refer to are examples of onomatopoeia.

Old MacDonald Had a Farm children's book

Examples of onomatopoeia abound in other languages too, although somewhat surprisingly, the words used to describe the same sounds are often not the same in different languages. The pig on Old MacDonald's farm, for example, says oink oink in English, but groin groin in French, grunz in German, and buu buu in Japanese. This is because sounds that are not produced by human throats can only be approximated by sounds we can pronounce, and different languages have different sounds available for forming words. Also, in the case of some animals, such as frogs, they actually do make different sounds in different parts of the world, because they are of different species.

Examples of Onomatopoeia

Here is a list of over 100 onomatopoeic words associated with noises. (Some words are shown more than once because the sounds they imitate fall under more than one category.)

Human Sounds


hum, grunt, mutter, chatter, yack or yak, blab, lisp, sneer, snicker, giggle, whimper, bawl, squeal, shriek, whoop

Nose and Mouth:

shush, whistle, smooch, cluck, smack, crunch, munch, gulp, spit, sputter, splutter, slobber, cough, sniff, sniffle, hiccup, huff, snort, snore, belch


pat, clap, slap, smack

Animal Sounds


woof, yip, yap, growl, snarl, howl


meow or miaow, mew, purr


chirp, cheep, tweet, peep, twitter, crow, squawk


buzz, chirp, hum

Vehicle Sounds


roar, hum, purr


honk, beep

Exhaust pipes:

sputter, rumble


squeal, screech

Other Sounds


boom, bang, pop


crash, bang, clash, wham, smack, whomp, whump, thump, bump

High Speed:

zoom, whoosh, swoosh, zing


zip, tap, click, clip, snip, knock, rap, bang, thwack, flap, smack, smash


creak, squeak, pop, boing, sizzle, fizzle, flap

Groups of Objects:

rustle, clack, clunk, clank, jingle, rattle, clatter


blare, shriek


ding, buzz, beep, clang


drum, throb, thump, twang, plink, plunk, bong


squish, slush, burble, gurgle, trickle, glug, splatter, squirt, fizz, plop


puff, hiss, whistle, swoosh, whoosh


buzz, hum, zap

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