Sound Words Add Punch to Writing and Conversation

woman with eyes looking to right with right hand cupped to ear listening
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“Sound Words Add Punch to Writing and Conversation” by Joan Y. Edwards

Swish! The door closed quickly behind me.
The little girl squished between her parents at the theatre.
Yada, yada, yada. The latecomers went on and on with their excuses.

Onomatopoeia is a figure of speech used when someone creates a word or words to imitate, resemble, or describe what you hear when people, animals, and inanimate objects makes sounds. I call them: “Sound Words.”

The song, “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” demonstrates the use of sounds to make this song more fun…an oink, oink here, a cluck cluck there.

When my nephew, Peter was 3 or 4 years old, he used onomatopoeia. (He didn’t know it, but he used it.) He climbed up on a bookcase to get a little drum. He and the bookcase came tumbling down. He said, “I climbed up and it said, “Timberrrr.” I was glad he was okay. His words made us all laugh! It broke the tension.

I am sure most of you use onomatopoeia (sound words) without even thinking of it. It comes naturally to many people. As you notice more sound words, you will get in a rhythm and think up your own.

In his Chief Storyteller blog post, Ira Koretsky lists nearly two hundred onomatopoeic words in 11 categories. Fuel for getting your ears tuned in for sound words.

Listen to see if your favorite characters on TV shows or in movies use onomatopoeia to describe their current situations or recap an event.

Use sound words in poems, conversation, text messages, emails, or memoirs about your childhood days. Any occasion is a good time to add new words to your very own onomatopoeia (sound word) collection. Using sound words adds punch to your writing and your conversation. 

Phyllis Heaton shared a sound passage with us:  “The campfire snapped and spit glowing sparks up towards the harvest moon. In the vast darkness something make loud crunching sounds as it moved across the fallen leaves that lay on the forest floor. I shivered and wondered whose idiot idea it was to camp in the Sleepy Hollow woods.”

Thank you, Phyllis.

Please share your favorite sentences using sound words with me in the comment area. If you give me permission, I’ll add yours to this post with your first and last name.

Resources for You

  1.  Ira Koretsky. Chief Storyteller. “Onomatopoeia, a Powerful Way to Improve Communication:”
  2. Joan Y. Edwards. “Sounds Can Heal:”
  3. Joan Y. Edwards. “Sounds of Words Bring Characters to Life:”
  4. Jules Horne. “Sensory Writing-Sounds, Music:” 
  5. Julie Shackman. “How to Use Sounds in Writing:”
  6. M. Harris Editor. “Write Onomatopoeia:”

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Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards, Author
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8 thoughts on “Sound Words Add Punch to Writing and Conversation”

  1. Many films have used nonsensical words to give a description,
    such as Mary Poppins, we all remember the appalling attempt by Dyk Vandyke at a London cockney accent. But also the classic song Supercalafragalisticexpialadocious to express a happy tone.

    One comedy program in UK when a weather girl was giving the forecast and when she got to Spain she would shout ‘Scorchio’ as an expression of very hot weather.

    When seeking to express situations it depends on the mood the writer is trying to portray to his or her audience.

    In a horror thriller I’m writing at the moment well not writing proof reading, entitled ‘The headless horseman.’ I use many words to express the situation, such as ‘the black clad rider with his head covered so only his piercing eyes could be seen, he raised his sword to strike down the woman who had been working in the field. She could still hear the crackling of fire as her village was being burnt to the ground. She could still hear the screams of women being raped and men being slaughtered
    where they stood.
    Magdalen the woman confronted by the headless horseman gripped the handle of her double handed scythe. Just as the horseman was about to strike her with his sword, she swung, the scythe with all her strength aiming at his head; all she had in the village gave her the energy to deliver a mighty blow which connected with crunching sound, which took his head straight off. The thud of his head hitting the ground was a satisfying noise to her.
    The horse reared up giving a whinnying noise as it kicked its front legs in the air, then galloped off with thundering hooves with the rider still seated.

    So yes, the expression of sound can conjour up many visions in the mind’s eye of the reader. The sounds can at a single moment bring back long distant memories gone by. I remember as child sitting on my grandfather’s knee in Ireland. The postman came once a week he would deliver the post but also give my grandfather a slab of pipe tobacco, which he would slice a chunk off, rub it in his hands then place in his pipe and light it. That knock on the door as the postman walked in when the situation is right a knock on a door can take me back to those days
    Thanks again Joan sorry for the rambling.


    1. Dear David,
      Thank you for writing and sharing your examples of the use of great sound words. I love “scorchio” for hot weather. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is fun to say and hear. When I was teaching, students loved to spell it. You use sound words effectively in your writing. I especially liked “the crackling of the fire.”
      Celebrate your ability to write.
      Never Give Up

    1. Dear Carol,
      Thank you for writing! So fun that rhyming words were flowing like river water through your mind this morning. I believe your rhyming words and sound words will greet you and meet you as you jump “Pow” right into your written work!

      Celebrate you and your writing,
      Never Give Up

    1. Dear Melanie,
      Thanks for writing. I smiled when I read your words, “I love it!”
      It will be fun for you to notice how many great sound words you used and you might think of a few phrases to snap our attention meaningfully and effectively in your book!

      Celebrate your ability to write,
      Never Give Up

  2. I think I’ll try using more descriptive words, metaphors and similies as answers for common questions, like “How was your day.” We often say, “Fine.” How about, “Like a ray of sunshine,” or “thought provoking.” Maybe the conversation will continue rather than end. Hmmmm…you’ve got me thinking.

    1. Dear. Linda,
      Thank you for writing. I like how you are planning to make your conversations more descriptive by adding similes and metaphors. Sounds like a fun idea! Thanks for sharing that with me.

      Never Give Up

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