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What is onomatopoeia?

Onomatopoeia refers to using a word that both describes a sound, and sounds like that sound when spoken aloud.

It is often used when describing actions (e.g. crash, splat) or animal noises (e.g. squeak, hiss).

It is used as a literary device, and can often be seen in comics and graphic novels to express sound effects (e.g. Pow! Boom!)


Onomatopoeia examples:

Examples of onomatopoeia

Onomatopoeia in sentences:

The fly buzzed frantically as it flew repeatedly against the window.

In the frying pan, the sausages sizzled and spat.

The leaves crunched satisfyingly under my feet.

Hungrily, the girl slurped the milkshake.

The car whizzed past at 90 miles an hour.


The effect of onomatopoeia

Because the word itself sounds like the noise it represents, we are encouraged to both hear and think of the sound. Onomatopoeia can help to create powerful descriptions and conjure a vivid images for the reader.


Onomatopoeia KS2

Whilst onomatopoeia isn't explicitly mentioned in the National Curriculum, it is beneficial for children to be able to recognise and discuss examples found in poetry and other texts, and to use it in their own writing.

Here are some English objectives that the teaching of onomatopoeia could come within:

Years 3 and 4 programme of study: Reading - comprehension: 'discussing words and phrases that capture the reader's interest and imagination'.

Years 5 and 6 programme of study: Reading - comprehension: 'discuss and evaluate how authors use language, including figurative language, considering the impact on the reader'.

Years 5 and 6 programme of study: Writing - composition: 'selecting appropriate grammar and vocabulary, understanding how such choices can change and enhance meaning'.


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FREE Onomatopoeia Examples KS2 Poster