Figure Name onomatopoeia
Source Silva Rhetoricae (http://humanities.byu.edu/rhetoric/Silva.htm); Ad Herennium (333-335); Garrett Epp (1994) ("nominatio," "onomatopoeia");Ad Herennium 4.31.42 ("nominatio"); Quintilian 8.6.31-33; Susenbrotus (1540) 10-11 ("onomatopoeia," "nominis confictio"); Peacham (1577) C4r; Putt. (1589) 192 ("onomatopeia," "the new namer"); Day 1599 79; JG Smith (1665) ("onomatopoeia"); Vinsauf (1967) ("onomatopoeia (nominatio)"); Holmes (1806) ("onomatopoeia"); Macbeth (1876) ("onomatopy"); De Mille (1882); Hill (1883); Demetrius (1902) 171 ("Onomatopoeic words"); Johnson (1903) ("onomatopoeia"); Vickers (1989) ("onomatopoeia")
Earliest Source None
Synonyms nominatio, nominis confictio, new namer
Etymology from Gk. onomos, "name" and poein, "to make"
Type Trope
Linguistic Domain Orthographic

1. Using or inventing a word whose sound imitates that which it names (the union of phonetics and semantics). (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Onomatopoeia suggests to us that we should ourselves designate with a suitable word, whether for the sake of imitation or of expressiveness, a thing which either lacks a name or has an inappropriate name. (Ad Herennium)

3. Neologism made on the basis of aural imitation or expressiveness. (Garrett Epp)

4. The feigning of a name: a figure whereby a word is made by a certain sound, &c.; ONomatopoeia, Nominis seu nominum fictio, the feigning of a name or names; derived from [onomatopoieo] nomen seu nomina fingo, fingo vocabula, á sono ea deducens; to feign a name from the sound. Nominis fictio, is a form of speech, whereby the oratour or speaker makes and feigns a name to some thing, imitating the sound or voice of that which it signifies, or else whereby he affecteth a word derived from the name of a person, or from the original of the thing which it expresseth: or, It is a kinde of Metonymie, and it is properly said of words so feigned, that they resemble or represent the sound of the thing signified.
This form of feigning and framing names is used 6. waies, viz.

(1.) By imitation of sound, as to say, a hurliburly signifying a tumult or uproar: likewise, rushing, lumbering, ratling, blustring, &c.

(2.) By imitation of voices, as, the roaring of Lions, the bellowing of bulls, the bleating of sheep, the grunting of swine, the croaking of frogs, &c.
(3.) By the derivation from the original; the city Troy was so called by derivation from King Tros, and before that, it was called Teucria from Teucrus, and first of all Dardania from Dardanus; so Ninivie of Ninus.

(4.) By composition, as when we put two words together and make of them but one, as Orator-like, Sholar-like: thus also we call a churle, thick-skin; a niggard, pinch penny; a flatterer, pick-thank.

(5.) By reviving antiquity; touching this I refer the reader to Chaucer, and to the shepherds Kalendar.

(6.) When we signifie the imitation of another mans property in speaking or writing; this form of speaking is more usual in the Greek tongue, and sometimes used in the Latine. (JG Smith)

5. ... [C]onsider the transposed use of a noun. If the noun that is transposed is common, it confers upon diction rhetorical adornment of this sort. (Vinsauf)

6. Onomatopoeia coins a word from sound, By which alone the meaning may be found. (Holmes)

7. Our next rhetorical figure is Onomatopy, where the sound resembles the sense. There is a resemblance between the sound of the language you employ and the sounds or movement made by the object described; or else the words you use produce by their sound or their cadence a state of feeling similar to the feeling produced by the thing spoken of. (Macbeth)

Onomatopoeia is a figure of speech, and consists in the use of words the sound of which suggests the thing signified; as, "hum," "hiss," "buzz," "crash," "roar," "boom," "smash." (De Mille)

9. 1. Other Sounds.
Some words unquestionably imitate natural inarticulate sounds. Thus 'hiss,' 'whiz,' 'crash' and 'splash,' as ordinarily uttered, correspond closely to the noises for which they stand. (Hill)

10. Onomatopoeic words produce a vivid effect, because their formation is imitative. (Demetrius)

11. "the use of a word or a phrase to imitate the sound of the thing signified" (Raub)

12. Onomatopoe'ia.—This figure is defined as the use of words that imitate inarticulate sounds, as when one says, " I heard the whiz of the bullet by my head and its thud as it struck the mark." (Johnson, 177)

13. Onomatopoeia (or nominatio), where language is used to imitate the sound of the animal ('Tu-whit tu-whoo') or thing described. (Vickers 496)


1. The buzzing of innumerable bees (The "zz" and "mm" sounds in these words imitate the actual sounds of bees.) (Silva Rhetoricae)

2." After this creature attacked the republic, there was a hullabaloo among the first men of the state." (Ad Herennium)

3. The goos, the cokkow, and the doke also
So cryede, "Kek kek, kokkow, quek quek" .... (PF 498-99 qtd. in Garrett Epp)

5. The thundering of the populace roused the city, or: a trumpet of thunder, the fury of the blast, the quarreling of the winds, the crashing of the sea, the rage of the storm. (Vinsauf)

6. Flies buzz, i.e. make a humming Noise. Tantaras, i.e. Noise of Trumpets, fill the Round. (Holmes)

7. When Goldsmith speaks of
"The varnish'd clock that click'd behind the door,"
the tick, tick, tick carries us back to the old years and deathless memories. (Macbeth)

7. Byron tells us of Lake Leman, how on the ear
"Drops the light drip of the suspended oar,
And chirps the grasshopper one good-night carol more." (Macbeth)

9. There is certainly an onomatopoetic effect in the following lines from Pope:
"What! like Sir Richard, rough and fierce,
With arms, and George, and Brunswick crowd the verse;
Rend with tremendous sounds your ears asunder,
With gun, drum, trumpet, blunderbuss, and thunder?
Then all your muse's softer art display,
Let Carolina smooth the tuneful lay,
Lull with Amelia's liquid name the nine,
And sweetly flow through all the royal line." (Hill)

11. "The buzz of the bee, or the rat-tat-tat on the door, meaning the knock." (Raub)

12. Edgar Allan Poe's poem The Bells abounds in examples of this figure, used seriously; and George W. Bungay's The Creeds of the Bells uses it humorously, though this requires skilful reading. (Johnson, 177)

13. Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage, blow! .,
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout. . .
--Shakespeare, King Lear, 3. 2. 1 (Vickers 496)

Kind Of Similarity
Part Of
Related Figures figures of sound, metonymy
Notes Related topics of invention: notation and conjugates. Entered by Nayoung. This figure is to be used rarely, lest the frequent recurrence of the neologism breed aversion ; but if it is used appropriately and sparingly, then the novelty, far from offending, even gives distinction to the style. (Ad Herennium)
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Robert Clapperton
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes Could this also be a type of "Identity"? - Nike
Reviewed No