I've been wondering about the patterns of Japanese onomatopoeia and their etymologies. Perhaps you could help me figure it out or link me to a useful bibliography that might.

The first of these onomatopoeia follow the following pattern: _っ_り, like:





The second example of Japanese onomatopoeia repeats the preceding component, often adding a dakuten (゛) in the latter part, i.e.:




The third type of onomatopoeia seems to take the sound that things make and adds っと to it:




Another question would be, why do some of these onomatopoeia take the に particle, while some use the と particle?

  • 1
    "some of these onomatopoeia take the に particle" Can you give some examples?
    – chocolate
    Feb 11, 2017 at 2:33
  • This question seems too general or should go meta if you want bibliography. Feb 12, 2017 at 13:50

1 Answer 1


These adverb classes are all related. At their root is the singular form, usually two morae in length, such as the にこ in にこにこ and にっこり, or the ぎゅう in ぎゅっと and ぎゅうぎゅう, or the ほそ in ほそぼそ and ほっそり. Some of these singular forms also comprise the roots of other words, or are cognate with those roots, such as ほそ also appearing in 細{ほそ}い, 細{ほそ}める, etc., or にこ also appearing in 和{にこ}やか, 和肌{にこはだ}, etc.

There is some more information about the derivation of _っ_り adverbs in this other thread.

(Note: I cannot find any examples of these classes of adverbs taking に; they all appear either to modify verbs directly, as in わくわくする, or to take と instead, as in ほっそりとした.)

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