Onomatopoeia is naming something from its own sound. Onomatopoeic words abound in English and other languages. They are words that mimic, resemble or suggest the sound that they describe. The bow-wow theory suggests that human language developed from an imitation of sounds in nature. Even though the theory is discredited today, there is no doubt that a lot of words have their origins in imitation of sounds.

How onomatopoeia works: Most of the words that describe the sounds made by animals and birds have been formed by an imitation of the sound itself. In fact, many animals and birds like aye-aye, cuckoo, dodo, and hoopoe have been named from their cries. Human vocal sounds and sounds of instruments have also been named after the sounds themselves.

The following is an onomatopoeia word list with notes on the origins of onomatopoeic words.

Onomatopoeic WordSound that the word denotes.
arghA sound that expresses frustration, disappointment, anguish, or pain.
achooThe sound of a sneeze.
ahemInterjection used to show a clearing of the throat. Used to attract attention, express doubt, warning, etc.
bangIndicates the sound of an explosion or collision.
bashTo strike with a heavy, crushing blow (the sound of a heavy blow).
bamThe sound of a blow or a collision.
barkThe harsh sound of a dog.
bawlA long, loud cry. Sound of sobbing.
beepA a short high-pitched sound from a horn or an electronic device.
belchThe sound of gas expelled noisily from the stomach through the mouth.
blabIncessant, thoughtless talking.
blareA loud, harsh noise.
blurtA sudden, impulsive utterance.
boingA reverberating sound.
boinkThe sound of hitting someone or something.
bonkThe sound of hitting someone or something.
bongThe resonant sound of a large bell.
booA sudden exclamation made to surprise someone who is unaware of one's presence.
boo-hooThe sound of someone crying noisily. (usually imitated)
boomA loud, deep, resonant sound.
bow-wowA child's imitation of a dog's bark.
bubbleThe sound of liquid boiling or flowing.
bumpThe sound of a collision.
burpNoisy release of air from the stomach through the mouth.
buzzLow, continuous humming sound of insects or bees.
cackleThe clucking cry of a bird.
chatterA series of short, quick high-pitched sounds. Informal talk.
cheepA short, high squeaky sound made by a bird.
chirpA short, sharp, high-pitched sound made by a bird.
chompChewing something noisily or vigorously.
choo-chooA child's imitation of the sound of a railway train
chortleA noisy, gleeful laugh.
clangA loud, resonant metallic sound
clashSond of objects being struck together.
clankSound made by pieces of metal being struck together.
clapSound of applause.
clackSounds of a hard object striking another.
clatterContinuous rattling sound of hard objects falling or striking each other.
clickShort, sharp sound of a switch.
clinkA sharp ringing sound,made by striking metal or glass.
clip clopThe sound of a horse's hoofs beating.
cluckThe short, low sound made by a hen.
clunkA dull sound made by heavy metal objects striking together.
cock a doodle dooThe sound made by a cock when it crows.
coughThe sound of coughing.
crackleA rapid succession of short sharp noises.
creakA scraping or squeaking sound amde by a wooden object or door.
croakA deep hoarse sound made by a frog or a crow.
crunchSound made while crushing a hard or brittle foodstuff.
cuckooSound of the cuckoo.
dingMetallic ringing sound
ding dongThe sound of a bell.
dripSound of liquid falling in small drops.
fizzA hissing sound produced by bubbles of gas.
flickSound made by sudden release of a bent finger, or a whip.
flipSound produced by a sudden quick movement like that of a switch or a page.
flip-flopA flapping sound.
flopA sound made by a heavy, loose movement.
flutterSound made by flapping the wings quickly and lightly.
giggleLaughing lightly and repeatedly in a silly way.
glugA hollow gurgling sound made while pouring some liquid.
groanA deep inarticulate sound conveying pain.
growlA low guttural sound of hostility made by animals.
gruntA low, short guttural sound made by pigs and other animals.
guffawA loud and hearty laugh.
gurgleA hollow bubbling sound made by some liquid running out of a bottle.
hackThe sound of cutting or kicking with rough or heavy blows.
hiccupA gulping sound caused by an involuntary spasm of the diaphragm and respiratory organs.
hissA sharp sibilant sound like that of escaping steam.
hohohoDeep laughter.
honkSound of a car horn or that of a wild goose.
hootThe typical call of many kinds of owl.
howlA long, doleful cry of a dog or wolf.
huhExclamation used to express scorn, anger, or surprise.
humLow, steady continuous sound of a bee.
jangleA ringing metallic sound.
jingleA light metallic ringing sound.
ka-chingThe sound of a cash register.
kerplunkA loud dull sound like that of a tree falling to the ground.
knockA sudden short sound caused by a blow, epecially on the door.
Lub DubHeart beating
meowThe crying sound of a cat.
moanA long, low sound expressing physical or mental suffering.
mooThe deep vocal sound of cattle.
mumbleA quiet and indistinct utterance.
munchEating something audibly.
murmurA low continuous background noise.
mutterA barely audible utterance expressing dissatisfaction.
neighA high whinnying sound made by a horse.
oinkThe grunting sound of a pig.
ouchInterjection that expresses pain.
oozeSlowly trickling fluid.
phewExclamation that expresses a strong reaction of relief, or of disgust at a smell.
pingAn abrupt high-pitched ringing sound.
ping pongThe sound of the ball going back and forth.
pitter patterThe sound of quick light steps or taps.
plinkA short, sharp, metallic or ringing sound.
plopThe short sound of a small, solid object dropping into water without a splash.
pluckThe sound produced while catching hold of something and pulling it quickly.
plunkThe sound made by abruptly plucking a string of a stringed instrument.
poofAn exclamation to show that something has vanished.
popA light explosive sound.
powThe sound of a blow or explosion.
purrA low continuous vibratory sound expressing contentment made by a cat.
quackThe characteristic harsh sound made by a duck.
rattleA rapid succession of short, sharp knocking sounds.
ribbitThe sound of a frog
ringA clear resonant or vibrating sound.
ripThe sound of tearing or pulling something quickly or forcibly.
roarA full, deep, prolonged cry of a lion or other large wild animal.
rumbleA continuous deep, resonant sound like distant thunder.
rushThe sound of hasty activity.
rustleA soft, muffled crackling sound like that caused by the movement of dry leaves or paper.
screechA loud, harsh, piercing cry.
shuffleSound of a quick dragging or scraping movement.
shushSoft swishing sound signalling someone to be silent.
sizzleA hissing sound made while frying or cooking.
slapSound of hitting or striking with the palm of the hand.
slashSound of a sweeping stroke made with a knife or sword.
SlishSame as slash.
slitherSound of something moving smoothly over a surface with a twisting or oscillating motion.
SloshSplashing sound of some liquid.
slurpA loud sucking sound made while drinking or eating.
smackSound of a loud kiss.
snapA sudden, sharp cracking sound
snarlAn aggressive growl of an animal with bared teeth.
sniffDrawing up air audibly through the nose to detect a smell.
snipCutting something with scissors or shears.
snoreA snorting or grunting sound made by a person who is asleep.
snortAn explosive sound made by the sudden forcing of breath through one's nose, used to express indignation or derision.
splashA sound made by something striking or falling into liquid.
splatA sound of something soft and wet striking a surface.
splatterSplash with a liquid, typically a thick or viscous one.
splishA splashing sound.
sploshA soft splashing sound.
squawkA loud, harsh, or discordant noise made by a bird.
squeakA short, high-pitched sound or cry.
squelchA soft sucking sound such as that made by treading heavily through liquid or mud.
squishA soft squelching sound.
SwayA rhythmical movement from side to side.
SwishA hissing or rustling sound.
swooshThe sound produced by a sudden rush of air or liquid.
thudA dull, heavy sound, such as that made by an object falling to the ground.
thumpA heavy deadened sound.
thwackSound of a sharp blow.
tic-tocTicking sound made by a clock.
tinkleA light, clear ringing sound.
trickleSound of liquid flowing in a small stream.
twangA strong ringing sound made by the plucked string of a musical instrument or a released bowstring.
tweetThe chirp of a small or young bird.
ughExclamatory sound used to express disgust or horror.
vroomThe roaring sound of an engine or motor vehicle.
waffleSound of vague or trivial talk.
whackA sharp or resounding blow.
whallopSound of a heavy blow or punch.
whamLoud sound as of a forceful impact.
whimperA series of low, feeble sounds expressive of fear or pain.
whipThe sound of beating with a whip.
whirrThe sound of something rapidly rotating.
whishSwishing sound.
whisperA soft or confidential talk.
whizzA whistling or buzzing sound made by something moving fast through the air.
whoopA long rasping indrawn breath, sometimes expressing excitement.
whooshAn exclamation used to imitate sudden movement accompanied by a rushing sound.
woofThe barking sound made by a dog.
yelpA short, sharp cry, especially of pain or alarm.
yikesAn exclamation expressing shock and alarm, often for humorous effect.
zapSound of something done rapidly.
zingA high-pitched buzzing noise.
zipSonund of fastening with a zip or something done fast.
zoomSound of sudden fast movement.

List of Animal Sounds

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