It was in the 1960s. Brigitte Bardot and Serge Gainsbourg exchanged “CLIP! CRAP!! of the BANG! the VLOP and ZIP! SHEBAM! POW! BLOP! WIZZZZZ!”. As Jacques Dutronc before them, singing: “I have a trap girl, a trap taboo / toy extra that makes crac boum hu.” The invitation galante was heard, leaving little room for the ambiguous. Almost sixty years after these securities unambiguous, the words are still relevant to speak of what is not said. And much more.

“Glug”, “bam”, “zoom”… These small words of everyday life are whistling in our ears. Since our childhood, we hear the cats do “meow”, the bells to “ring” and the floors do “crac”. But where are these sounds? These sounds that has been transcribed under the name of onomatopoeia? The Figaro proposes you to rediscover them in a short list.

● Ouch!

Did you know that our ancestors-those who lived before the Fifteenth century – would say, “ahi” when they were wrong? In the Eleventh century, as well as the says Catherine Guennec, in his book A Trillebardou at Jean Guillemette , (First), it was not said yet “ouch” when we took the foot in a table. It is in 1473, indicates The Treasury of the French language, the sound “ouch” will appear. It is written “aye”, “ay”, “aÿ”.

” READ ALSO “Waste”, “schlaguer”… These words and expressions that change from one region to the other.

● Cocorico!

as We know, the animal is the emblem of France. But as the story goes Stéphane Bern in his book, The Why of History (Albin Michel), “the use of the cock is older than the French monarchy”. At the beginning of the Ancient times, Gaul was represented by a “lark”. The rooster comes to replace it “in favor of a simple coincidence of language”. In latin, gallus means both “gaul” and “rooster”. “With bravado, the Gauls will gradually adopt this animal, a symbol of vigilance and courage, which will then be taken over by the Franks.”

interestingly, the word “cock” appears in the Twelfth century, note the French Academy, and is “taken from an onomatopoeia of the sound: coccus, in latin, and coco, already in latin imperial”. It is thus quite naturally that “cocorico”, written coquerycoq in 1547, eventually came to designate the “cry of the rooster”. Note that, figuratively, the word means a “manifestation of the noisy and joyful to be glorified chauvinistic”. Example: “The cocoricos of victory.”



Any cat-lover knows that these small animals grow some strange noises. When they lick them up, when they purr, when they are sleeping… in Short, all the time. But did you know that these hairballs were not always “meow”? In fact, as noted by the Treasury of the French language, in the Sixteenth century, the cats were pushing the “myault” and “miault”. This is only the beginning of the Seventeenth century that the cats are “meow”. To believe that until then, they had a… cat stuck in the throat…

● Hello!

“Hello, it’s me!” We say this word at least once per day. The term cucu date of the second half of the Eleventh century and refers to a “bird climber of the genre pie”, note The Treasury of the French language. From 1845, the word may also describe a “small car public, which led the travellers on the outskirts of Paris”. It is only at the end of the Nineteenth century, “cuckoo” means “to cry, and to manifest his presence.” The term comes from the classical latin cuculus “with influence of the cry of the bird for the development phonetics: repetition of the consonant” k ” bit by bit assimilated to two vowels. In the present case: “koku”, “kuku”.


Just like the “guilis”, the verb “tickle” is actually a word built on an onomatopoeia. The term is old as The Treasure of the French language is a first occurrence in 1220. Catellier means “cause twitching”. In 1414, the verb catoillier, “excite”, appears. In the middle of the Seventeenth century, the latter can also mean “pleasure, and flatter”.

As to its origin, the thesaurus indicates “the most likely hypothesis is that of an original onomatopéique, several european languages expressing the same concept by the succession of the consonants k-t-l or g-t-l, particularly for the romance languages”.


● Bang!

When we were children, imagination, push us to invent sounds. The correspondence between an object and its noise. Thus, the gun or the explosion can do “bang”. But the pun is not innate. It’d probably be from the English bang, which means a “loud sound”, “explosion of firearms” or a “very rapid movement”, note The Treasury of the French language. Bang, accurate thesaurus, is the déverbal to bang “kicking violent, resounding”. It may be reached in English through the norse.

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● Hooray!

Hard to tell where may come this joyous word. But you have you thought that this scream could come and… Russian? According to The Petit Robert, the masculine noun attested in 1722 as “houra”, from the English hussa is itself the result of the Russian “hurrah”. But is this, its one origin? Not really. The Treasury of the French language clears up a bit more its etymology.

The word “hurrah” would be born in the twilight of the Seventeenth century in France under the form “houzaye”. He referred to a “cry of joye and debauchery common in the Anglois, that pronounce this word houzai; also in use among the Germans, who say huisa; and by corruption it is said in Francis, houzza”. The term was already popular among the sailors in the Sixteenth century of the other side of the Channel. But, says the thesaurus, the term has been borrowed from the Russian “ura”, itself related to the Turkish wurmak “smite, strike, beat”.

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