Samuel and the Joys of Onomatopoeia

It’s commonly known that onomatopoeia refers to a word that phonetically imitates or suggests the source of the sound it describes. For example: 

The snake hissed in the grass.  

The fallen leaves rustled in the wind.  

The bees buzzed around the flower. 

The students murmured their dissatisfaction about the upcoming quiz.  

The rooster’s cock-a-doodle-do announced the arrival of a new day.  

“Chitty bang-bang. Chitty-chitty bang-bang.” (Ian Fleming)  

“Plop, plop, fizz, fizz. Oh what a relief it is.” (Paul Margulies & Tom Dawes)  

The Scriptures contain examples of onomatopoeia, too, though it doesn’t always come through in English. For example: 

“Then thundered the horses’ hoofs—galloping, galloping go his mighty steeds” (Judges 5:22). Hebrew: daharoth, daharoth (cf. English: The Lone Ranger: darrrunt, darrrunt). 

“Be silent before the Sovereign LORD . . .” (Zephaniah 1:7a). Hebrew: hass (cf. English: hush). 

“Your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac” (Genesis 17:19b). Hebrew: Yitzhak (cf. English: yuk yuk). 

“Go and buy a clay jar from a potter” (Jeremiah 19:1b). Hebrew: baqbuq (cf. English: glub glub). 

“And some began to spit on him . . .” (Mark 14:65a). Greek: ptuo (cf. English: spit). 

It’s a fun linguistic phenomenon.  

Anyway, Samuel discovered its joys recently when he started imitating the siren of a little firetruck we recently bought him.  


He also displays a bit of rhythm, too, with the bopping head. This little munckin always makes my heart smile. 

Some Bonus Snaps

2 thoughts on “Samuel and the Joys of Onomatopoeia

  1. Sandy Paton

    Samuel needs to grow into those gloves. Won’t be long! You need to teach him the rest of the words to the Lone Ranger theme: Dadarunt dadarunt, dadarunt runt runt runt… Sounds (ahem) as though that little tyke has rhythm and a half. Surely inherited it from Mom, Dad, Grandma, and Grandpa (is that what you are called?)

Leave a Reply