[ on-uh-mat-uh-pee-uh, ‐mah-tuh‐ ]
See synonyms for: onomatopoeiaonomatopoeiconomatopoetic on Thesaurus.com

  1. the formation of a word, as cuckoo, meow, honk, or boom, by imitation of a sound made by or associated with its referent.

  2. a word so formed.

  1. the use of imitative and naturally suggestive words for rhetorical, dramatic, or poetic effect.

Origin of onomatopoeia

First recorded in 1570–80; from Late Latin, from Greek onomatopoiía “making of words,” from onomato- (stem of ónoma “name”) + poi- (stem of poieîn “to make”) + -ia -ia;cf. -onym, poet

Other words from onomatopoeia

  • on·o·mat·o·poe·ic, on·o·mat·o·po·et·ic [on-uh-mat-uh-poh-et-ik], /ˌɒn əˌmæt ə poʊˈɛt ɪk/, adjective
  • on·o·mat·o·poe·i·cal·ly, on·o·mat·o·po·et·i·cal·ly, adverb

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use onomatopoeia in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for onomatopoeia


/ (ˌɒnəˌmætəˈpiːə) /

  1. the formation of words whose sound is imitative of the sound of the noise or action designated, such as hiss, buzz, and bang

  2. the use of such words for poetic or rhetorical effect

Origin of onomatopoeia

C16: via Late Latin from Greek onoma name + poiein to make

Derived forms of onomatopoeia

  • onomatopoeic or onomatopoetic (ˌɒnəˌmætəpəʊˈɛtɪk), adjective
  • onomatopoeically or onomatopoetically, adverb

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012