Oh No! Ma, I’m Poetic

Onomatopoeia is the formation of words whose sound is imitative of the sound of the noise or action designated. BAM! Before we dive into this noisy ocean, let’s be clear on one thing: onomatopoeia is the written equivalent of cupping a hand to your ear in Charades to signal, “Sounds like ….” This is in contrast to solfeggio or solmization, which is the formation of each note in a musical scale (DO RE ME FA SOL LA TI).

Yeah, But Can You Play Them?

Cha-cha Question
As seen on Chacha.com

This vaguely worded question was answered literally. I’m guessing that the person who asked this question really meant, “Are onomatopoeias allowed in Scrabble?” Of course they are.

Comic Books, Again

You may remember the discussion about bilabial fricatives and rude raspberries. PHT and PHPHT are comic book examples of onomatopoetic words. Here are a few more:

  • POW
  • PTUI

Sites Dedicated to Onomatopoeia

As Scrabble players, we probably focus on words with more direct imitations of sounds. To do so is to miss out on prosaic words like CHIRP, SCREECH and WHOOSH.

Examples of Onomatopoeia

If you visit www.examples-of-onomatopoeia.com, you’ll get an earful of unexpected onomatopoeias, from ACHOO to ZOOM. The list is far from exhaustive, though.

A more academic treatment of onomatopoeia can be found on About.com. Naturally, many of the examples are not playable in most games. Still, the trivia is entertaining.

Let’s Make Some Noise!

How many onomatopoeias can you find on the board? Ignore that pitiful rack.


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