Word curio icon

Word Curio

April 17, 2018

Word of the Day: Onomatopoeia

1 CQ

Word of the Day : April 17, 2018

onomatopoeia \ah-nuh-mah-tuh-PEE-uh\ noun


1 : the naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it (such as buzz, hiss)

2 : the use of words whose sound suggests the sense

Did You Know?

Onomatopoeia came into English via Late Latin and ultimately traces back to Greek onoma, meaning "name," and poiein, meaning "to make." (Onoma can be found in such terms as onomastics, which refers to the study of proper names and their origins, while poiein gave us such words as poem and poet.) English speakers have only used the word onomatopoeia since the mid-1500s, but people have been creating words from the sounds heard around them for much longer. In fact, the presence of so many imitative words in language spawned the linguistic bowwow theory, which postulates that language originated in imitation of natural sounds.

Build your vocabulary! Get Word of the Day in your inbox every day.

Test Your Vocabulary

  More Confusing Words—Quiz

    The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.


    Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

    Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Aired April 17, 2018

All Merriam-Webster content is available at

  • Recommended Recommended
  • History & In Progress History
  • Browse Library
  • Most Popular Library

Get Personalized Recommendations

Let us help you figure out what to learn! By taking a short interview you’ll be able to specify your learning interests and goals, so we can recommend the perfect courses and lessons to try next.

Start Interview

You don't have any lessons in your history.
Just find something that looks interesting and start learning!

500 characters max