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What Is Onomatopoeia?

Onomatopoeia is a kind of rhetorical device or language technique. The most common kind of onomatopoeia is when the word sounds exactly like what they mean, whether that be an action (like “she thumped on the door” where thump represents the knocking) or a sound (like the “whooshing of the wind” where “whoosh” echoes the sound of the storm) has several meanings.

Onomatopoeia is someitmes confused with cacophony or euphony. All of them are “sound-based” literary devices, but cacophony is the intentional use of a harsh sound, while euphony is the intentional use of a harmonious sound. Granted that onomatopoeia can have a harsh or a harmonious effect, but its purpose is to imitate the original sound, not to produce a particular sound effect.

There are many different kinds of onomatopoeia. The mechanical onomatopoeia represents noises made by gadgets or machines, like the “buzz” of the saw of the “click” of the phone. People will also be familiar with a “clanking washing machine” or “a beeping toy.”

Another category of onomatopeia focuses on fast motions. This can be the whoosh of the wind, as mentioned earlier, or even words like boing, vroom, zap, zip and zoom—all meant to produce the sense of speed.

Musical Onomatopoeia represents the sounds made by instrns, like the twang of a guitar or the toot of the horn. There are also cooking or food onomatopeia such as “sizzling bacon” or “fizzing drink.” Other words, like munch and crunch, mimic the sounds made while we chew on food.

The comics industry would be crippled without Fighting Onomatopoeia like bam, whomp, and zowie, while kids grow up on animal onomatopeia like the “cow’s moo” and “baa baa black sheep.”

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