Difference Between Alliteration and Onomatopoeia Poems

Alliteration and onomatopoeia are two different figures of speech. These are usually used in poetry to bring a desired rhyming effect. Alliteration is the use of such words that begin with a similar sounding letter. Onomatopoeia is another figure of speech that can be used to bring musical effects to a poem.

Alliteration vs Onomatopoeia Poems

The main difference between alliteration and onomatopoeia poem is that alliteration poem exploits the repeated letter sound at the beginning of closely connected words whereas onomatopoeia poem exploits imitation of different sounds made by an animal, person, or any other thing. In alliteration, the repetition happens in quick succession. In a nutshell, these two types of poems are a result of different figures of speech.

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Alliteration poems use the repetition of different consonant sounds in succession to create a musical effect. There are so many examples that we are familiar with that uses alliteration. One beautiful example would be Acquainted with the Night by Robert Frost. In one of the lines which goes like this ‘The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew………’ Robert frost uses the literary device to bring a beautiful musical tone.

Onomatopoeia poems use the literary device onomatopoeia which comes from a Greek word that roughly translates to ‘I make a name’. The figure of speech uses the imitation of natural sounds to bring a poetic genre. This figure of speech is generally used in children’s poems. The cat purred… splash of water… uses onomatopoeia. Here the word purr refers to the natural sound made by a cat and splash is the sound made by water when it hits against something.

Comparison Table Between Alliteration and Onomatopoeia Poems

Parameters of ComparisonAlliteration PoemsOnomatopoeia Poems
DefinitionAlliteration poems the figure of speech called alliteration which is nothing but the use of repetitive constant sound.Onomatopoeia poems use the imitated sounds made by animals or things.
ExamplesYou are my sunshine, my only sunshine you make me happy…The ginger cat purred when she heard a splash sound coming from the sea.
UsageIt can be found in different types of poems.It is generally used in kids’ poems.
Use of soundIt uses different consonant-sounding words.It uses different onomatopoeic sounds.
MusicalityIt is the repetitive sound that creates musicality.It is the imitated sounds that create musicality.

What are Alliteration Poems?

Alliteration poems use the repeated consonant or vowel sound to create musicality or rhythm. The repeated sound is generally stressed and the syllable which contains the letter is stressed upon. Alliteration is the use of the phonetic aspect of speech which is used in such poems to create a musical or rhythmic note.

It is primarily intended for performances as it contains musical features. The use of alliteration has been used in many famous poems such as Irish Verses. The repeated sounds could occur at the beginning or at any point in the word. The use of such alliteration is called complex alliteration.

In complex alliteration, the use of non-initial consonants can also be used to bring the desired effect. The repeated sounds must not be from the beginning letter but should be from any syllable within a group of words. The other names for the figure of speech could however be misleading.

Names such as initial rhyme or head rhyme suggest that the initial letter should be the one that must rhyme but it is not the case as it can be any syllable that can have a repetitive sound. There are many examples such as ‘humble house’ in this the initial letter is creating the musical effect.

What are Onomatopoeia Poems?

This type of poems exploits the phonetic imitation of sounds that could suggest the sound itself. The use of the figure of speech is very common in children’s poetry. Commonly the sounds imitated are of animals and sometimes actions such as splash.

The word onomatopoeia means imitating sound which is a rough translation of the compound Greek word. The words for the same sound could however differ from language to language. The onomatopoeic words conform to a large family of phonetic sounds which may differ depending on the Language involved.

In different languages, different strings of consonants or vowels may be used to create the word for a similar sound however the sound is the same. The use of such poems can be seen in comic books as they exploit the figure of speech relates action to words.

The figure of speech can be used in advertisements as well to create a mnemonic effect that helps the customers to remember the product. The use of such poetic devices is common in advertisements. The name of some products such as Fizz is an example where onomatopoeia is used. Onomatopoeia poems thus can be used for multiple purposes. It is suggestive of the naturalness of languages.

Main Differences Between Alliteration and Onomatopoeia Poems

  1. Alliteration poems use the repetitive consonant sound in any syllable of the word whereas onomatopoeia uses the imitation of sound into words.
  2. Onomatopoeia poems are generally made for kids but the figure of speech can be used in other ways as well whereas alliteration is used in various types of poems.
  3. Alliteration poems use repeated sounds to create music or rhythm whereas onomatopoeia uses imitated sounds into words.
  4. Both poems use the phonetic property of human speech to create desired effects but onomatopoeia pomes are based on a natural property of language which is not the case in Alliteration poems.
  5. Alliteration poems use consonant or vowel sounds whereas onomatopoeia poem uses different consonant strings.


Both types of poems use the different phonetic properties of human speech. The use of repetitive sound in subsequent words is the primary characteristic of an alliteration poem whereas words that attempt to imitate and suggest the sound that it refers to is the basic characteristic of onomatopoeia poems.

Alliteration poems can use words that have a syllable that has the repetitive sound and the words need not have an initial letter that produces the repetitive sound. Onomatopoeia poems use words that are imitations of natural sounds which could be different for different languages.

Both types of poems exploit figurative language which reveals the phonetic nature of language rather than the semantic nature.


  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/30007526
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/372569
  3. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2905403

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