We use special sound mimicking words so often that we don’t even realise we are doing it. Image Credit: Stock photo/Pixabay

Boom, cuckoo, zap, boing! Don’t worry, you’re not in a comic strip. Today’s Crossword is all about onomatopoeia – words that imitate the sound they are associated with.

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This type of speech came into the English language in the late 1500s. According to, onomatopoeia comes from the Greek onoma, which means “name”, and poieîn or “to make” – essentially translating to “the making of words.”

We use these special sound mimicking words so often that we don’t even realise we are doing it! For instance, you “zip” up your jacket when it’s cold, “giggle” when your phone “pings” with a new meme, and “munch” on your favourite packet of chips.

Poets caught on to the marvelous music of onomatopoeia early, and used it frequently in poems across the decades. American writer Edgar Allan Poe, for instance, used sound devices to create the effect of bells ringing in his poem, The Bells. He wrote: “How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,/ In the icy air of night!” And if you’ve read English poet Alfred Noyes’ The Highwayman, the sounds of horses trotting down cobbled streets echoes through his poem, in verses: “Tlot tlot, tlot tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hooves, ringing clear…”

Interestingly, English language users are not the only ones to use onomatopes. According to an article in the American magazine The Atlantic, in Swedish, a small dog’s bark is called “bjäbb-bjäbb”; in Turkish, “hev hev”; and in Japanese, “kian kian”.

As the English language evolves, new onomatopoeic words are always being added to the lexicon. “Pew-pew” for instance, immediately conjures the sound of lasers, and “untz-untz” signifies the beat of popular music.

What will be the next new onomatopoeic word? Play today’s Crossword and let us know if you enjoyed it at