[M.M.X.I.V. 220] Onomatopoeia

Another definition of “onomatopoeia” that I have heard: The comic book word, that word that sounds exactly like what it means. I wanted to give a few examples of it, from examples in my life that I have heard lately.

In order to make this post come full-circle, I’ll mention a Hebrew word which is an onomatopoeia, and reveal what it is at the end of the day. “המילה היא “בקבוק (The word is [pronounced] Bach-bOOk.) Of course, if you know that word, please read on anyway!  I will admit that this post will read more as a list than a polished narrative.

One of my favorite words is “BUZZ.”  And this perfectly complements the sound of a buzzer that you might hear, for example, on a game show.  Whether the buzzer is to indicate time expired, wrong answer, or something along those lines, people know that I like the word BUZZ.

CLUNK — This one JUST came up, as I was listening to B107.3 and heard Gina mentioning that she had pulled a Bridget and hit her head against the microphone.  Sometimes, those mistakes are what make us human, and that is one thing that makes listening to radio enjoyable–those foibles.

Several of my favorite onomatopoeia words come up regularly when I am taking the CTA.  One of these words is “DING-DONG” which is the sound of a bell.  Of course, whenever I hear it, I immediately say one of two things, “Doors closing” or, in a semimechanical voice, “CAUTION. The DOORS are about to close.”

And then, on the 5000-series CTA trains, the “Doors closing” announcement is followed by a “NEENER-NEENER-NEENER” as the light above the door flashes and the doors close.  A similar sound effect is associated with some parking garages in Chicago, as well as a rotating yellow beacon on the wall, to alert pedestrians that a car is exiting.  Of course, the “denotation” of the word “neener-neener” is almost more of a taunt, and I can see it in both cases.  In the former case, if you are rushing up the stairs and hear the “NEENER-NEENER-NEENER,” congratulations! You just missed your train!

When I was in high school, at the volleyball games, I was often startled by the buzzer that would sound at 15 seconds before the end of a timeout.  After a few times of jumping, I instead anticipated it and at 15 seconds, would make my OWN buzzer sound, which caused Mr. Smith to call me “The Human Buzzer.”  Another time when I was over by the control desk, I noticed that there was a manual buzzer button with the word “HORN.”  Pressing this button (don’t worry, I did not press it, but saw the operators press it :)) caused HONK to appear on the screen on the control board.  However, despite the seeming onomatopoeia, the horn sounded more like “ENNNNNNNNNNN” than “HOOOOOOOONK.”  I didn’t get the latter except at State Tournament games at Devaney while I was in high school.

Because I have a lot of research to do today, I might as well finish up this post by returning to the Hebrew word.  If you say the sound effect “bach-bOOk” multiple times repeatedly, what comes to mind?  I would think that it sounds like fluid coming out of a BOTTLE.  Indeed, “bottle” in Hebrew is בקבוק.


Today is the two-hundred and twentieth day of M.M.X.I.V.  That makes thirty-one weeks and three days.

Today is the twenty-fifth day of the Character Building Trial.  That makes three weeks and four days.

5 thoughts on “[M.M.X.I.V. 220] Onomatopoeia

  1. I tried it, Noah, and you are absolutely right: It really does sound like fluid coming out of a bottle – wonderful example!


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