Several onomatopoeia questions

I’m reading a novel, and I encounter so many onomatopoeia (as much as I know, they are onomatopoeia but correct me if I’m wrong), but jisho doesn’t give me what it means at all. For example, ぺしぺし、ぞくり(と)、ぶわっ(と)、ぐるり(と)、etc. Sometimes I get the meaning from context, but maybe I’m reading it wrong and it bugs me when I don’t know the exact meaning of words.

Is there a site or any resource where I can get the meaning of most of these onomatopoeias? It will also help if you know what above onomatopoeias mean. Thank you!


The important thing to remember with onomatopoeia is that it’s sound symbolism. So a Japanese person can make up an original onomatopoeia on the spot and as long as it obeys the existing sound symbolism concepts it will probably be understood by another Japanese person.

Like, I could say “Graspronk!” right now and you could imagine things that it would work for, and things it wouldn’t work for. It probably wouldn’t be a feather lightly falling on the ground.

There are resources out there that explain the sound symbolism rather than trying to give definitions in English for every word that could come up. And I think that’s a better way to go about it than treating it like they’re just a list of words with meanings to memorize.


Do you have any resources you’d recommend?

I found these two with a quick search:


Onomatopoeia have some rules that you can learn and it makes them easier to search in dictionaries since you know some parts of the sound are suffixes (like と or り) and may or may not be included in the dictionary entries. Tofugu has a lengthy and detailed guide for the rules:

I usually search for onomatopoeia in this sfx dictionary. It doesn’t have everything but it’s helped me quite a few times:

For example it tells you that ぺし is the sound for slapping, so ぺしぺし will probably point to repeated slapping.


Here’s a really cheap book that gives those kinds of explanations. I never did read through the whole thing, but from the parts I’ve skimmed it seems pretty good.


Thank you! I really never thought of it like that.

Thanks! This site with search bar is very helpful!

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