It could be an Indian word, living on as the name of a town: “That day we drove fifty miles, from Onomatopoeia to St. George.”
Or it could be a moth in the Limberlost swamps: “Just at that moment, into a spot of sunlight, aglow against the deep shade of trees, flitted the one moth Elnora needed for her collection, velvet-red shading to purple, an Onomatopoeia Regalis.”
It could be a rhythm in poetry, a two-step embedded in waltz.
Or a magic incantation: “The witch stood now on her left foot, closed her eyes. ‘Ah-no / mah-to / poeiah!’ she intoned.”
Or it could be an imaginary world where most words sound like their meanings.
“How did language start?” I once asked my Grandpa. “I mean, how could people begin talking, if no one ever had before? And if someone did begin, how would anyone know what they were saying?”
“I think,” he said, “that at first people made sounds like things they heard, and words came from that. Like, maybe a cave man would come home hungry and ask his wife what was for dinner, and she might say, ‘SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSP.’ And so, after a while they had the word ‘soup’.”
“…And what about ‘dinner’? And ‘what’s’?” I persisted. Grandpa didn’t know.
But in my imagined world perhaps he would know, for there it matters that words should sound like their meanings. Like our “quickly” and “slow”. Like “tickle” and “trickle” and “slither” and “lick”.
So, then, just as agreeable imagined worlds are called “utopias”, and horrible ones are “dystopias”, so my world where words have the ring and feel of their meanings is an “ono • ma • to • pia”, no?