Already, I see the panic in your eyes.
“OMG! Onomatopoeia is a very big word. We can’t even say it, let alone know what it means. How are we ever going to learn to use it in our poetry?”
First of all, onomatopoeia really isn’t that difficult to say. Just break it down into smaller parts, say each syllable slowly: on-o-ma-to-pee-a. Its meaning is even easier to remember: onomatopoeia means words that sound like the objects they name or the sounds those objects make. For example, the word buzz not only is the name of the noisebees make, it also sounds like that noise. Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!
You probably already know a lot of onomatopoeic words. If you read comic books, you’ve seen many such words. Think of Batman fighting The Joker: Pow! Bam! Smack! These are all examples of onomatopoeia.
The words we use to describe the noises animals or machines make are also often onomatopoeic. Woof, meow, hiss, tweet, oink, neigh, cock-a-doodle-doo, and whir, clunk, hum, ding-dong are all fine examples of words that sound like the thing they are describing.
Now that you understand what onomatopoeia means, try to think of as many examples as you can of such words. Write them down on a piece of paper. These words are often fun to say and because they sound like what they mean, they can add a lot of life and energy to your poetry. Squirt, splat, giggle, slurp, slush, sprinkle, achoo, tick-tock, slap, tickle, kiss, burp, slither, bounce, crash, etc.: try using words like these in a poem.
Look at the two examples below. The first one describes a boy who goes outside to play in the snow. The second one does the same thing, but this time uses onomatopoeic words to “liven the poem up.” Do you think it works?
The boy put on his jacket
and his red hat,
then walked outside
through the snow
to build a snowman.
His sister laughed and
threw a snowball
that knocked off
the snowman’s nose.
The boy zipped up the slippery jacket,
plopped his fuzzy red hat on his head,
then slushed through the snow
to build a snowman.
His sister giggled and
whooshed a snowball
that plopped off
the snowman’s nose. Splat!
Try writing some of your own onomatopoeic poems. Send your best ones in to Magic Dragon.