Onomatopoeia

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An onomatopoeia or onomatopœia (About this sound pronunciation (US) , from the Greek ὀνοματοποιία;[1] ὄνομα for "name"[2] and ποιέω for "I make",[3] adjectival form: "onomatopoeic" or "onomatopoetic") is a word that imitates or suggests the source of the sound that it describes. Onomatopoeia (as an uncountable noun) refers to the property of such words. Common occurrences of onomatopoeias include animal noises, such as "oink" or "meow" or "roar". Onomatopoeias are not the same across all languages; they conform to some extent to the broader linguistic system they are part of; hence the sound of a clock may be tick tock in English, dī dā in Mandarin, or katchin katchin in Japanese.

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Cross-linguistic examples

Uses of onomatopoeia

In the case of a frog croaking, the spelling may vary because different frog species around the world make different sounds: Ancient Greek brekekekex koax koax (only in Aristophanes' comic play The Frogs) for probably marsh frogs; English ribbit for species of frog found in North America; English verb "croak" for the common frog. Related to this is the use of tibbir for the toad.

Some other very common English-language examples include hiccup, zoom, bang, beep, and splash. Machines and their sounds are also often described with onomatopoeia, as in honk or beep-beep for the horn of an automobile, and vroom or brum for the engine. When someone speaks of a mishap involving an audible arcing of electricity, the word "zap" is often used (and has been subsequently expanded and used to non-auditory effects generally connoting the same sort of localized but thorough interference or destruction similar to produced in short-circuit sparking).

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