(also spelled onomatopœia
, from Greek
: ονοματοποιΐα) is a word
or a grouping of words that imitates the sound it is describing, suggesting its source object, such as "click", "bunk", "clang", "buzz", "bang", or animal noises such as "oink", "moo", or "meow". The word is a synthesis of the Greek words όνομα (onoma, = "name") and ποιέω (poieō, = "I make" or "I create") thus it essentially means "name creation", although it makes more sense combining "name" and "I do", meaning it is named (and spelled) as it sounds (e.g. quack, bang, etc.).
Onomatopoeic words differ across languages because they always have to conform to some extent to the broader linguistic system they are part of. Thus the Norwegian tikk takk for the sound of a clock could never be a Dutch word because Dutch words never have long consonants at the end of the word; accordingly, the Dutch equivalent is tik tak.
In the case of a frog croaking, the spelling may moreover vary because different frog species around the world make different sounds: Ancient Greek brekekekex koax koax for probably Rana ridibunda; English ribbit for species of frog found in North America; English verb "croak" for Rana temporaria.
Cross-linguistic examples of onomatopoeia
- In Basque (Euskara), txio txio
- In Bosnian, čip bolan čip
- In Catalan, piu piu
- In Chinese, Mandarin jī jī zhā zhā (叽叽喳喳)
- In Czech, Slovak, píp píp /peep, peep/
- In Dutch, twiet twiet, "tok tok tok" (hen(chicken))
- In English, chirp chirp, tweet tweet
- In Filipino, twitwittwit
- In Finnish, tviit, piip piip, ti-pi-tii, ti-ti-tyy (Great Tit)
- In French, cui, cui
- In German, piep piep /peep, peep/, tschiep
- In Hungarian, csip csip
- In Italian, cip cip, pio pio (for chicks)
- In Japanese, it varies: piyo piyo (ピヨ ピヨ) for chicks
- In Korean, jjek jjek (짹짹)
- In Malayalam, "coo coo"
- In Polish, ćwir ćwir
- In Portuguese, piu piu
- In Brazilian Portuguese, piu-piu
- In Romanian, cip cirip, piu piu
- In Russian, chirik chirik (чирик, чирик)
- In Sinhalese, kumu kumu (කුමු-කුමු)
- In Spanish, pío, pío
- In Swedish, kvitt, kvitt
- In Tamil, koo, koo
- In Thai, "jib jib" (จิ๊บ จิ๊บ)
- In Turkish, cik cik /dʒik dʒik/
- In Tagalog boogsh, boom
- In Arabic, bom, bov
- In Brazilian Portuguese, bum
- In Catalan, pam
- In Chinese, Mandarin, cannon firing - pēng (嘭 or 砰); gun firing - ping, pang or Pa (乒 or 啪) (乒 also means "table tennis"); machine gun - da da da... (嗒嗒嗒) (嗒 singly means "clatter")
- In Danish, bang, bum
- In Dutch, cannon firing - boem, gun firing - pang or pauw, machine gun - ratatata
- In English, bang, "brap", blam, boom, or pow
- in Estonian, põmm
- In Finnish, pum, pam: generally for all gunfire and explosions; ra-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta: an example of fully automatic gunfire.
- In French, pan: a gun or cannon firing
- In German, peng, puff, päng (pistol); rat-tat-tat-tat (machine gun); Bumm, Rumms, Kawumm (cannon)
- In Greek, bam, (μπαμ)
- In Indonesian, dorr, bum
- In Hungarian bumm
- In Italian, bum, bang
- In Icelandic, búmm or bamm
- In Lithuanian, bumpt
- In Polish, bum
- In Romanian, bum
- In Sinhalese, ḍisum (ඩිසුම්); ḍaka-ḍaka-ḍaka (ඩක-ඩක-ඩක) - automatic weapon; ḍung (ඩුං) - single shot
- In Spanish, pum or bang
- In Swedish, pang or bang: a gun shot
- In Thai, pung (ปัง)
- In Turkish, bam: a gun shot or bom: a cannon firing
- In Hebrew, bum (בום)
- In Tamil, doom
- In Telugu, dhaam
- In Tagalog meyaw
- In Arabic, miao
- In Bengali: মিউ মিউ miu miu
- In Brazilian Portuguese, miau
- In Bulgarian, miau (мяу)
- In Catalan, mèu [mɛu]
- In Czech, mňau [mñow]
- In Chinese, Cantonese, mēu-mēu (喵喵)
- In Chinese, Mandarin, miāo miāo (喵喵)
- In Danish, mjau
- In Dutch, miauw
- In English, meow [miˈaʊ], miaow (UK), or mew [mjuː]
- In Estonian, mjäu, njäu
- In Filipino, ngyaw
- In Finnish, miau
- In French, miaou [mja.u]
- In German, miau, mietz
- In Greek, niau, (νιάου)
- In Hebrew, miaw (מיאו)
- In Hungarian miaú, nyau
- In Norwegian mjau
- In Hindi Myaau, Myaaoo
- In Icelandic, mjá
- In Italian, miao miao
- In Indonesian, meong
- In Japanese, nyā (ニャー)
- In Korean, yaong (야옹)
- In Lithuanian, miau
- In Malayalam, "myaoo myaoo"
- In Polish, miau
- In Portuguese, miau
- In Romanian, miau
- In Russian, myau (мяу)
- In Sinhalese, ñāvu (ඤාවු) and puru puru (පුරු-පුරු) - purring
- In Spanish, miau [mjaʊ]
- In Swedish, mjau or mjao
- In Thai, miaw (เมี๊ยว)
- In Turkish, miyav
- In Telugu, miao(m)
- In Tamil, miaow(m)
- In Vietnamese, meo
- In Arabic, bom, trakh
- In Bengali: ঠাস ṭhash ঠুস ṭhush ধুম dhum ধাম dham
- In Bulgarian, bum, dum tryas (бум, дум, тряс)
- In Chinese, Cantonese, bìhng-līng baang-làahng (乒鈴嘭唥)
- In Chinese, Mandarin, larger objects crashing, buildings falling down or bigger bombs detonating - hong (轰); describing glass shattering or metal objects falling to ground - guang-dang (哐当) or guang-lang (哐啷)
- In Dutch: boem, knal
- In English: boom, crunch, wham, bang
- In Finnish: ryskis, kolin, rämin
- In French, bing or bang or boum
- In German, rumms or bumms
- In Gilbertese. beeku: a collision.
- In Haitian Creole, bip: the sound of a collision (eg. a car crash).
- In Hebrew, bum, trakh (בום, טראח)
- In Hindi, dhishumm, dhishum
- In Indonesian, buk or brekk or j'derr
- In Italian, sbam
- In Korean: Koong: the equivalent of bang bang in English.
- In Latin, tuxtax was the equivalent of bam or whack and was meant to imitate the sound of blows landing.
- In Lithuanian, bumpt
- In Malay, gedebak-gedebuk
- In Sinhalese, daḍas (දඩස්)
- In Spanish, pácatelas crash, or pungun
- In Tamil, dhishumm, dhishum
- In Turkish, güm
- In Arabic, qa qa
- In Bengali: কা কা ka ka
- In Bulgarian, ga ga (га га)
- In Chinese, Mandarin, ya-ya (哑哑) (哑 means "mute")
- In Czech, krá krá
- In Danish, kra kra
- In Dutch, kra kra
- In English, caw caw
- In Estonian kraaks kraaks, vaak vaak
- In Finnish, kraa kraa
- In French, crôa crôa
- In German, krah krah
- In Greek, kra kra, (κρα κρα)
- In Hungarian kár kár
- In Norwegian kra kra'
- In Italian, cra cra
- In Japanese, kaa kaa, gaa gaa
- In Korean, kaak kaak,(까악까악)
- In Lithuanian, kar kar
- In Malayalam, "kra kra"
- In Polish, kra kra
- In Romanian, cra cra
- In Russian, kar kar (кар-кар)
- In Sinhalese, kāk kāk (කාක්-කාක්)
- In Spanish, cuaa cuaaa or uacc uac
- In Swedish, kra kra or krax krax
- In Turkish, gaak gaak
- In Tamil, kha-kha
- In Hebrew, kra kra (קְרה קְרה).
- In Telugu, kaau kaau
- In Chinese, Cantonese, dìuh-díu fihng (吊吊捹)
- In Chinese, Mandarin, objects creaking when swaying - yiya yiya (咿呀 咿呀)
- In Czech, houpy-houp referring to motion similar to clock pendulum or baby swing chair.
- In Dutch, doing-doing-doing referring to something dangling in a vertical motion.
- In English, clink, clang
- In Finnish, kilin, helin
- In Korean, dal-lang dal-lang evoking the feeling of something dangling, slightly swaying.
- In Tamil, sil-sila silu-sila
- In Arabic, haw haw
- In Bengali: ঘেউ ঘেউ gheu gheu, ভেউ ভেউ bheu bheu, ভউ ভউ bhou bhou
- In Brazilian portuguese: au au
- In Bulgarian, bow bow, djaff, djaff (бау бау, джаф джаф)
- In Catalan, bup bup
- In Czech, haf haf
- In Chinese, Cantonese, wōu-wōu (㕵㕵)
- In Chinese, Mandarin, wāng wāng (汪汪) (汪汪 also means "tearful")
- In Danish, vuf vuf, vov vov, bjæf bjæf
- In Dutch, waf waf, woef woef
- In English, woof woof, arf arf, bow wow, bark bark, ruff
- In Estonian, auh auh
- In Filipino, aw aw
- In Finnish hau hau
- In French, ouaf ouaf
- In Norwegian voff voff
- In German, wau wau, waff waff, ''wuff wuff'
- In Greek, gav gav (γαβ γαβ)
- In Hebrew, haw haw, hav hav (האו האו, הב הב)
- In Hungarian vau vau
- In Icelandic, voff voff
- In Indonesian, guk guk
- In Italian, bau bau
- In Japanese, wan wan (ワンワン)
- In Korean, meong meong (멍멍)
- In Lithuanian, au au
- In Malayalam, "bau bau"
- In Romanian, ham ham
- In Russian, gav gav (гав-гав)
- In Polish, hau hau
- In Portuguese, ão ão
- In Sinhalese, buh buh (බුඃ බුඃ)
- In Slovene, hov hov
- In Spanish, guau guau
- In Swedish, vov vov, voff voff
- In Telugu, bau bau
- In Thai, hong hong (ฮ่ง ฮ่ง)
- In Turkish, hav hav
- In Tamil, vovw-vovw
- In Brazilian Portuguese, quá quá
- In Chinese (Mandarin dialect), ga-ga (嘎嘎）
- In Dutch, kwak kwak
- In English, quack quack
- In Estonian, prääks prääks
- In Finnish, kvak kvak
- In French, coin coin
- In German, quak quak
- In Norwegian kvakk kvakk
- In Spanish, cua cua
- In Swedish, kvack kvack
- In Turkish, vak vak
- In Ancient Greek, brekekekex koax koax
- In Modern Greek, kuax kuax, (Κουάξ Κουάξ)
- In Bengali: মক মক môk môk, কট কট kôṭ kôṭ
- In Bulgarian, kva kva (ква ква)
- In Chinese, Mandarin: guā guā (呱呱) (The Chinese onomatopoeic signs usually feature a "口" (mouth, oral) part on its left)
- In Czech, kvá kvá
- In Danish: kvæk kvæk
- In Dutch: kwaak kwaak
- In English, ribbet ribbet
- In Estonian krooks krooks
- In Filipino, kokak kokak
- In Finnish kurr kurr, kroak
- In French, croac croac
- In Galician, cro cro
- In German, quak quak
- In Hebrew, kwwa kwwa (קווה קווה)
- In Hungarian, brekeke
- In Italian, cra cra
- In Japanese, kero kero (ケロケロ)
- In Korean, gaegool gaegool (개굴개굴)
- In Lithuanian, kva kva
- In Polish, kum kum
- In Romanian, oac oac
- In Russian, kva kva (ква ква)
- In Sinhalese, baka baka (බක බක)
- In Spanish, croac croac
- In Swedish, kvack kvack, ko ack ack ack
- In Thai, Ohb Ohb (อ๊บ อ๊บ)
- In Turkish, vrak vrak
- In Telugu, beka beka
- In Dutch, gak gak
- In English, honk honk
- In French, ca car
- In German, gack gack
- In Hebrew, bak bak (באק באק).
- In Hungarian, gá gá
- In Italian, qua qua
- In Polish, gę gę
- In Portuguese, qüém qüém
- In Russian, ga-ga-ga (га-га-га)
- In Spanish, cua cua
- In Turkish, vak vak
- In Korean, Kkwak-Kkwak(꽤액-꽤액)
- In Arabic, bom bom
- In Bengali: দুরদুর durdur, দুড়দুড় duṛduṛ
- In Chinese, Cantonese - bìhng-bìhng (砰砰)
- In Chinese, Mandarin, slightly excited - tong-tong (嗵嗵), excited - peng-peng (砰砰)
- In Dutch, boenk boenk, boem boem
- In English bum bum, du-thump, lub dub, tha-thump
- In Estonian, tuks tuks
- In Finnish, tu-tum, tykyn
- In German, ba-dumm, bumm bumm
- In Hindi daḍak (pronounced /ˈd̪əɖək/) and Urdu dhakdhak: a person's heartbeat, indicative of the sound of one beat.
- In Indonesian, dag-dig-dug, deg-degan
- In Japanese, doki doki (ドキドキ): the (speeding up of the) beating of a heart (and thus excitement).
- In Korean, doogeun doogeun (두근두근)
- In Portuguese, tun-tum
- In Lithuanian, tuk tuk
- In Tamil, lappu-tappu
- In Hebrew, bum-búm (בום-בום).
- In Spanish, bum bum bum,
- In Swedish, dunk, dunk
- In Turkish, dup dup
- In Russian, "tuk-tuk" (тук-тук)
- In Italian, tu tump
- In Arabic, mwa
- In Persian, mua
- In Danish, møs
- in Dutch, smak
- In English: smooch or mwah
- In Estonian mopsti
- In Bengali: চুমা chuma (noun)
- In Chinese, Mandarin: boh (啵) (This word is a modern creation)
- In German: muah, schmatz
- In Greek: ma or smats, (μα or σματς)
- In Hungarian: cupp
- In Korean: zzohk
- In Malayalam, umma: the sound of a kiss.
- In Norwegian, smask
- In Polish, cmok
- In Portuguese, splish splash, smac, chuac
- In Romanian, mua
- In Russian, chmok (чмок)
- In Japanese, chuu
- In Filipino, tsup or mwah
- In Finnish, muisk
- In Sinhalese, umma (උම්ම)
- In Spanish, mua or muac
- In Swedish, smack
- In Turkish, muck /mudʒ(u)k/
- In Hebrew, mwa (מואה).
- In Telugu, umma
- In Italian, smack
- In Tamil, umma
- In Arabic, kuku kukuku
- In Bulgarian, kukurigu (кукуригу)
- In Chinese, Mandarin, Gu Gu Gu! 咕咕咕
- In Carlish, arh-ah-ariihhr
- In Czech, kykirikí
- In Danish, kykkeliky
- In Dutch, kukeleku
- In French, cocorico
- In English, cock a doodle doo
- In Estonian kikerikii, kukeleegu
- In Euskara, kukurruku
- In Finnish, kukkokiekuu (kukko - a cock, kiekuu - crowing)
- In German, kikeriki
- In Greek, kikiriku, (κικιρίκου)
- In Hungarian kukurikú
- In Icelandic, "gaggalagó"
- In Norwegian kykkeliky
- In Indonesian, kukuruyuk
- In Italian, chicchirichi
- In Japanese, kokekokko (コケコッコー)
- In Korean, gugugugu (구구구구)
- In Lithuanian, kakarykū
- In Polish, kukuryku
- In Portuguese, cocorocó
- In Romanian, cucurigu
- In Russian, koo-ka-re-koo
- In Sinhalese, kuku kūk kuu (කුක්කු කූක් කූ)
- In Spanish, quiquiriquí or quiquiriquiquí or cocoricó
- In Swedish, kuckeliku
- In Turkish, ü-ürü-üüü /yʔyryʔyː/
- In Filipino, tiktilaok
- In Tamil, kokkara-ko-ko
- In Hebrew, kúku ríku (קוקוריקו)
- In Telugu, kokkaro-ko
- In Hindi kukadu-ku
- In Arabic, atchu
- In Bengali, হাচি hachi (noun)
- In Bulgarian, apchih (апчих)
- In Chinese, Cantonese, hāt-chī (乞嗤) (also means "begs scoffs")
- In Chinese, Mandarin, ah-qiu! (啊嚏)
- In Czech, hepčík /hap cheek/
- In Danish, Atju!
- In Dutch, Hatsjoe!
- In English, Achoo!
- In Estonian, Atsihh!
- In Finnish, Atshii!, Atshiu!, Ätshii!
- In French, Atchoum
- In German, Hatschi!
- In Greek, apsiou!, αψιου!
- In Hungarian, Hapci!
- In Icelandic, Atsjú!
- In Italian, etciuu
- in Japanese, hakushon! (ハクション!)
- In Korean, etchi (에치)
- In Lithuanian, apčiū
- In Norwegian, aatsjoo
- In Polish, apsik!
- In Portuguese, atchim!, atchô!
- In Romanian, hapciu!
- In Russian, Apchkhi! (Апчхи)
- In Sinhalese, Hacis (හචිස්)
- In Spanish, ¡Achu! more frequent is ¡Achís!
- In Swedish, atjoo!
- In Thai, hud-chei (ฮัดเช่ย)
- In Turkish, hapşu
- In Filipino, Atsing!
- In Hebrew, apchi! (!אפצ'י).
- In Tamil, A-Choo
Wailing siren of a police car or ambulance
- In Dutch, Taatuutaatuu
- In English Wee Woo, Nee Nar
- In Finnish, Pii paa
- In French, Pin Pon
- In German, Tatütata
- In Hungarian, Nínó
- In Norwegian, Bæ bu bæ bu
- In Romanian, ni no ni no
- In Spanish Wiu Wiu
- In Swedish, Tut tut
- In Thai, Pee Por (ปี๊ ป่อ)
- In Turkish, Daa dii
- In Tamil, aaaaaeeen-neeeeen
- In Bengali: টুপ টুপ ṭup ṭup
- In Chinese, Cantonese, dihk-dihk (滴滴)
- In Chinese, Mandarin, di-da (滴答) (which can also mean "the drop answers")
- In Czech, kap /cup/
- In Danish, dryp dryp (dryppe is the Danish verbal equivalent), plop plop
- In Dutch, drup drup
- In English, drip drop
- In Estonian, tilk tilk
- In Finnish, tip tip
- In French, plic plic/ploc
- In Greek, plits plits or splats splats, πλιτς πλιτς or σπλατς σπλατς
- In German, plitsch, platsch; tropf
- In Hindi, tipak, tipak
- In Hungarian, csöp-csöp or csip-csöp (csöpp or csepp is also the Hungarian word for "drop")
- In Indonesian, tik tik
- In Italian, plin plin
- In Korean, toktok(똑똑)
- In Polish, kap kap
- In Portuguese, plim plim
- In Romanian, pic pic
- In Russian, kap kap (кап-кап)
- In Spanish, ploc ploc; pluip pluip
- In Swedish, dripp dropp
- In Turkish, şıp şıp
- In Tamil, sottu-sottu
- In Hebrew, plup (פלופ), tif taf (טיף טף).
- In Telugu, tup tup
- In Bengali: ভোঁ bhõ, শন শন shôn shôn, ঝির ঝির jhir jhir
- In Chinese, Mandarin: shiao-shiao (萧萧), Slightly strong wind - hu-hu (呼呼), Rapid/chilly wind - sou-sou (嗖嗖) (萧 means "dreary", 呼 means "shout (verb)")
- In Czech: fíííí /fee/
- In Japanese: byuu byuu, pyuu pyuu, zawa zawa, soyo soyo
- In Vietnamese: vi vu: the sound of a gentle breeze and vù vù: the sound of a strong wind.
- In English: Swish: The sound of a gentle breeze and Whoosh: the sound of a strong wind
- In German: Huiiih
- In Portuguese: Vuuuush
- In Spanish, fuuuu fuuuu; fgrrrr frgrrrr
- In Swedish: Svish
- In Dutch: Woesh, Woesj
- In Turkish:"vuuuu vuuuu"
- In Tamil, Shhhhhhhhhh
Uses of onomatopoeia
Some other very common English-language examples include hiccup
, and splash
and their sounds are also often described with onomatopoeia, as in honk
for the horn of an automobile, and vroom
for the engine. In science fiction the sounds made by laser weapons are often described as "zaps". For animal
sounds, words like quack
) and meow
) are typically used in English. Some of these words are used both as nouns and as verbs.
Agglutinative languages or synthetic languages flexibly integrate onomatopoeic words into their structure. This may evolve into a new word, up to the point that it is no longer recognized as onomatopoeia. One example is English "bleat" for the sheep noise: in medieval times it was pronounced approximately as "blairt" (but without an R-component), or "blet" with the vowel drawled, which is much more accurate as onomatopoeia than the modern pronunciation.
An example of the opposite case is "cuckoo", which, due to continuous familiarity with the bird noise down the centuries, has kept approximately the same pronunciation as in Anglo-Saxon times and has not changed to having its vowels as in "furrow".
Verba dicendi are a method of integrating onomatopoeia and ideophones into grammar.
Occasionally, words for things are created from representations of the sounds these objects make. In English, for example, there is the universal fastener which is named for the onomatopoeic of the sound it makes: the zip (in the UK) or zipper (in the U.S.). Many birds are named from the onomatopoetic link with the calls they make, such as the Bobwhite quail, the killdeer, chickadee, the cuckoo, the chiffchaff, the whooping crane and the whip-poor-will. In Tamil and Malayalam, the word for crow is kaakaa. This practice is especially common in certain languages such as Māori and, therefore, in names of animals borrowed from these languages.
Advertising uses onomatopoeia as a mnemonic, so consumers will remember their products, as in Rice Krispies (US and UK) and Rice Bubbles (AU) which make a "snap, crackle, pop" when one pours on milk; or in road safety advertisements: "clunk click, every trip" (click the seatbelt on after clunking the car door closed; UK campaign) or "click, clack, front and back" (click, clack of connecting the seatbelts; AU campaign) or "click it or ticket" (click of the connecting seatbelt; US DOT campaign).
In many of the world's languages, onomatopoeia-like words are used to describe phenomena apart from the purely auditive. Japanese
often utilizes such words to describe feelings or figurative expressions about objects or concepts. For instance, Japanese barabara
is used to reflect an object's state of disarray or separation, and shiiin
is the onomatopoetic form of absolute silence (used at the time an English speaker might expect to hear the sound of crickets
chirping or a pin dropping in a silent room). It is used in English
as well with terms like bling
, which describes the shine on things like gold, chrome or precious stones.
Onomatopoeia in pop culture
- Whaam! (1963) by Roy Lichtenstein is an early example of pop art, featuring fighter aircraft being struck by rockets with dazzling red and yellow explosions.
- Marvel Comics have trademarked two words of their own invention: thwip!, the sound of Spider-Man's web shooter, and snikt! the switchblade-sound of Wolverine's claws locking into place (which was replaced with the lesser-known schlikt during the period he was left without the adamantium covering on his bones). Marvel also uses the sound effect "bamf" to signify Nightcrawler's teleportation.
- In Doctor Who comic strips, the sound of the Tardis is represented as vworp! vworp!
- In the Garfield comic strip and television series, there is a running gag about a "splut," which is usually the sound of a pie hitting someone in the face.
- For example, Garfield once kicked Odie, but instead of 'kick' it said 'blagoonga', with Garfield remarking to Jon that Odie needs to be tuned
- The late MAD Magazine cartoonist Don Martin often used such words in his artwork, to comic effect.
- In the 1960s TV series “Batman”, comic book style onomatopoeias such as wham!, pow!, "biff!", crunch and "zounds" appear onscreen during fight scenes. This is often the subject of parody, for example in the Simpsons episode "Radioactive Man" where the onomatopoeic words are replaced with snuh!, newt! and mint! which are references to other Simpsons episodes.
- Ubisoft's XIII employed the use of comic book onomatopoeias such as bam!, boom and noooo! during gameplay for gunshots, explosions and kills, respectively. The comic-book style is apparent throughout the game and is a core theme, as the game is an adaptation of a comic book of the same name.
- In the movie Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Rooh, Tigger lists Onomatopoeia as a possible word that Rabbit doesn't allow to be said in his house. Tigger also announces that onomatopoeia is in fact a real word.
- The onomatopoeia that is said to be heard at a typical Disco Biscuits (a popular jamband) show is untz. This description seems to have originated from an interview with Bob Dylan, who said "I kept hearing this, untz..untz..untz..untz..(sound in the background of all the music)...fun time, though... lots of young kids with dilated pupils."
- In Jonathan Swift's novel Gulliver's Travels, the name of the Houyhnhnm's is an onomatopoeia for the whinny of a horse.
- Todd Rundgren wrote a humorous song "Onomatopoeia" which uses many examples in this "Love Song". Examples in the song start out reasonable and start to get more ludicrous as the song goes on.
- The comic strip For Better or For Worse is notorious for using non-onomatopoeic verbs as onomatopoeias, such as "Scrape," to indicate a person shaving, or "Tie," to illustrate someone tying a string around a package.
- A well-known rhetorical question is "Why doesn't onomatopoeia sound like what it is?". Ian M. Banks references this in his novel Use Of Weapons, when a character claims that the word onomatopoeia is spelled "just the way it sounds!".
- Brian Preston, a popular Quizzo night host in Philadelphia used words like crash, boom, and fart to describe onomatopoeia. Unfortunately, fart is a non-onomatopoeia (although its Proto-Indo-European language ancestor perd- (compare Greek περδομαι and Avestic prd) is more realistic).
- "Kerplunk" was used in the video game Final Fantasy VIII as the name of one of the Guardian Force Cactuar's attacks. For the Guardian Force Tonberry, the humorously out of place onomatopoeia of doink! is written on-screen during its powerful knife stab attack.
- In the video game Brave Story: New Traveler, an onomatopoeia appears wherever an attack hits its target.
- The January 8, 2008 comic of Ozy and Millie featured a panel in which Millie repeats the word "Splorsh" and Ozy quips "I've noticed you find Onomatopoeia extremely distracting."
- "Uhn Tiss Uhn Tiss Uhn Tiss", recorded by The Bloodhound Gang in 2005 for their "Hefty Fine" album simulated the driving beat of most popular House and Rave music styles.
- In one Captain America comic, the accidental use of the word "wank" as an onomatopoeia was found hilarious by many teenagers. (The enemy was saying "Captain America, I command you to-" but was interrupted by Captain America smacking him across the face and the "wank!" showed up right after the enemies' speech bubble; Thus looking as though it had said: "Captain America, I command you to- Wank!".)
- The marble game KerPlunk is an onomatopoeia for the sound of the marbles dropping when one too many sticks has been removed.
- Another popular onomatopoeia is "Om nom nom", which is used to describe the process of eating, or indicate one is hungry. This has recently become apparent on much internet media such as lolcatz.
- Crystal, David (1997) The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, Second Edition ISBN 0-521-55967-7
- Smyth, Herbert Weir (1920). Greek Grammar. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-36250-0.