ONOMATOPOEIA, literaUy the making or formation of words (Gr. bvonarcrvoLLa, from ovoiia, name, word,7roteti', to make), hence a term used in philology for the formation of words by imitation of natural sounds, e.g. " hiss," " hush," " click." Modern philologists prefer the term " echoism," " echoic " for this process, as suggesting the imitative repetition of the sounds heard. At one time there was an exaggerated tendency to find in echoism a principal source in the origin and growth of language, ridiculed as the "bow-wow" theory of language; it is now recognized that it has played only a limited part.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)