English onomatopeias: bark! Yap! Yip!

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A bark is the sharp sound made by a dog, wolf, or fox and, by extension, any sharp sound similar to this, especially when someone is coughing or laughing. It is also used to describe the sound of a gun explosion and, figuratively, a bark is something said rudely, especially an order. As a verb and in reference to dogs or guns, to bark means ‘to make a barking sound,’ and also ‘to say something rudely or harshly.’
 But did you know that although bark is the term for all the short, sharp sounds dogs make, we also use a more specific term for the high-pitched barks made by some small dogs. For that we say they:
or sometimes:
Both these words can also be used as nouns.

Example sentences

I heard a bark and realized there was a dog in the house.
Helen tried to hold back her laughter, but a bark escaped her.
The bark of the gun frightened the birds and they flew out of the trees.
The teacher’s bark soon put a stop to the students’ bad behavior.
My neighbor has eight dogsand they bark all the time.
The gun barked once and the deer fell to the ground.
I don’t like my new boss; instead of talking to the staff, she just barksorders at everyone.


Multi-word forms

bark up the wrong tree: be completely mistaken about something or someone. Example: “I know you think it was me who stole your pen, but you’re barking up the wrong tree! It was Dan.”
their bark is worse than their bite: said of someone who seems harsh on the surface, but is not as bad as you think. Example: “Don’t worry if the boss shouts at you; his bark is worse than his bite. He won’t actually fire you for such a small mistake.”
bark at the moon: protest about something without having any effect. Example: “You can complain about the new highway all you like, but it won’t make any difference; you’re just barking at the moon.”

Additional information

In botanics, bark is the outside covering of a trees and, as a verb, to barksomething means to ‘to rub off or scrape the skin off something, as by bumping into something.’ So, for example, if you walk into a low table and graze your knees, you can say that you barked your knees on the coffee table.


Bark dates back to before 900. It comes from the Middle English word berkenand the Old English word beorcan; it is related to the Old English word borcian,meaning ‘to bark,’ the Old Norse word berkja, ‘to bluster,’ the Lithuanian wordburgė́ti, meaning ‘to growl’ or ‘to quarrel,’ and the Serbo-Croatian word br̀gljati,meaning ‘to murmur.’

Thanks to WordReference, see more information here.



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