We define onomatopoeia as “the formation of a word, as cuckoo, meow, honk, or boom, by imitation of a sound made by or associated with its reference.” Or, if you prefer, “the use of imitative and naturally suggestive words for rhetorical, dramatic, or poetic effect.” In the pop culture realm of 1960s television, no one made better use of the onomatopoeia concept for dramatic effect than the producers of the Batman television series.
Color television was just coming into its own, and the show made every attempt to make sure you knew they were being brought to you in living color. (Remember, this was 1966.) Brightly colored sets and villain costumes were also augmented by glitzy (for the time) graphics and onomatopoeia slides that would suddenly swirl into the scene and then disappear just as fast.
An online search couldn’t come to a definitive number of these onomatopoeia words used in the series, which ran from January of 1966 to March of 1968—but it’s in the high-80s. The website Batmania.com.ar has a comprehensive list for you Bat-fans out there. Fontfeed.com says “in the first season they were overlaid on the image but due to the cost they were simply inserted in brightly coloured screens from the second season on.” Terms such as BANG!, GLURPP!, RAKKK!, and ZAP! were to become staples of every 1960s kid’s vocabulary.
The usage of onomatopoeia isn’t limited to Stately Wayne Manor and the subterranean Batcave. It’s a pretty sure bet you use some of these on a regular basis. Here’s a selection from Vappingo.com.
I knew we had finally left the city when I could hear the gentle moo of the cows in the field.
Zip! My dress was fastened and I was finally ready for the wedding.
It was lovely to wake up to the tweet of the birds outside my bedroom window.
I love the crunchy texture of fresh lettuce.
Please do not beep your horn after dark.
The steaks sizzled on the barbeque.
We clapped our hands it time with the music.
The dog barked as the postman approached the gate.