2016 Fundraiser: We depend on donations from our community to create a safe place for poetry online. This is the one time of year we ask, so thank you for considering a small donation to support our great work. Learn more about our story

What is Onomatopoeia?

Onomatopoeia occurs when the sound a word makes mimics what the word means.

Who knew saving the world required so much onomatopoeia?

Ono-what-a-what-a?! This word isn't actually gibberish, we promise. It's pronounced "on-uh-mat-uh-pee-uh." Try to say it aloud. Kinda seems like you're just making a bunch of different sounds, right? Right! Thankfully this word makes it easy on us since its definition is exactly what it sounds like. Onomatopoeia occurs when the sound a word makes mimics what the word means. Time to call on all those superhero comic book lovers out there: you know you can't go long without seeing "boom," "pow," "whoosh," or "clang" written in big letters across the pages. The writers use onomatopoeia so that words not only describe the action but sound like it too, which helps immerse the reader in the story. Onomatopoeia is especially useful in spoken word poetry, since the words really resonate with the audience when spoken aloud. Just think for a bit- there are so many words that sound just like what they mean. Words that relate to animal sounds or emotions are super popular onomatopoeia words, like "ribbit," "meow," "buzz," "screech," and "swoon." When searching for words like these to use in your writing, it helps to speak the words aloud and listen to the sounds they make.

While you brainstorm some more onomatopoeia words, try to find the ones hidden in these onomato-poems (yes, we made that up).

 

Jabberwocky

BY LEWIS CARROLL

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

'Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!'

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood a while in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One two! One two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

'And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Fossils

BY OGDEN NASH

At midnight in the museum hall

The fossils gathered for a ball

There were no drums or saxophones,

But just the clatter of their bones,

A rolling, rattling, carefree circus

Of mammoth polkas and mazurkas.

Pterodactyls and brontosauruses

Sang ghostly prehistoric choruses.

Amid the mastodontic wassail

I caught the eye of one small fossil.

"Cheer up, sad world," he said, and winked-

"It's kind of fun to be extinct." 

 
Poetry Term: