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First introduced in 1935 by C. M. Doke, equivalent to ideo- +‎ -phone. However, James F. Fordyce originally mentioned the term in The Ideophone as a Phonosemantic Class: The Case of Yoruba, in Current approaches to African linguistics, Ivan R. Dihoff (ed.), page 263.


ideophone (plural ideophones)

  1. A word that utilizes sound symbolism to express aspects of events that can be experienced by the senses, like smell, color, shape, sound, action, or movement.
    • 1969 October, William J. Samarin, The Art of Gbeya Insults, in International Journal of American Linguistics 35(4), page 325, [1]
      In insults the ideophone occurs either in its characteristic position, the verb phrase, or uncharacteristically as a modifier in a noun phrase.

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