- the formation of a word, as cuckoo, meow, honk, or boom, by imitation of a sound made by or associated with its referent.
- a word so formed.
- the use of imitative and naturally suggestive words for rhetorical, dramatic, or poetic effect.
- the formation of words whose sound is imitative of the sound of the noise or action designated, such as hiss, buzz, and bang
- the use of such words for poetic or rhetorical effect
adj.1860, from French onomatopoéique or else from onomatopoeia + -ic. n.1570s, from Late Latin onomatopoeia, from Greek onomatopoiia “the making of a name or word” (in imitation of a sound associated with the thing being named), from onomatopoios, from onoma (genitive onomatos) “word, name” (see name (n.)) + a derivative of poiein “compose, make” (see poet). Related: Onomatopoeic; onomatopoeial.