Despite being the hardest word to spell in the English language, onomatopoeia is, very simply, when the meaning of a word is echoed by or similar to its sound. Basically, it is when words ‘sound like what they mean’. For example:
It is often pointed out that fizzing things don’t actually make the sound ‘fizz’, in the same way that dogs don’t actually go ‘bark bark’. While this is true there is enough of a similarity between the ‘zz’ sound in fizz and the hissing sound that fizzing things make for the sound of the word to ‘echo’ it’s meaning.
Here is the first stanza of a poem called Breakdown by Jean Kenward that uses onomatopoeia to good effect:
the washing machine
Has gone terribly wrong,
Onomatopoeia can often be quite fun or used to create violent, loud, crashing, disruptive effects.