Sometimes, trying to describe a noise isn’t enough. Instead, writers might want to use onomatopoeia, which are words that represent a certain sound in some way. This article will explore the sound of glass breaking and what onomatopoeia words we can use for it.
Which Words Can Best Describe The Sound Of Glass Breaking?
There are plenty of good choices out there, and a lot of people make up their own ones. However, the best ones to watch for are:
The preferred version is “shatter” because it’s the one we most closely associate with the fragments left over after glass breaks. The shattering sound is one that’s all too familiar to anyone who has been around broken glass, which makes it the best choice.
Let’s start with the preferred version for broken glass onomatopoeia.
“Shatter” is a great word to talk about how glass can break into thousands of tiny fragments. We often use “shatter” to refer to larger pieces of glass, though it is also good for small things like glass bottles or handheld mirrors if there are enough fragments after the break.
The definition of “shatter,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “to (cause something to) break suddenly into very small pieces.”
Some people argue that “shatter” isn’t strictly an onomatopoeia word because it’s not the noise that glass makes when it breaks. However, in most cases, if you use “shatter” as an exclamation, people will understand that glass has broken somewhere and has led to that noise.
“Shatter” can work in the following examples:
- The shatter that echoed throughout the house was immense!
- That shatter from the broken glass was impressive, though I don’t want to tell the owner that we broke his favorite bottle.
- Shatter! That’s all I heard when I came up the stairs.
- The shatter of the glass when he fell through the window echoed through the streets.
“Smash” is another great option, but we usually reserve it for large pieces of glass.
“Smash” works well as another onomatopoeia word. It works best when the glass is large and broke into a lot of smaller pieces. It can also work for smaller objects, though “shatter” is usually better in most of these cases.
The definition of “smash,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “to cause something to break noisily into a lot of small pieces.”
Again, some people believe that “smash” doesn’t quite make the cut since glass doesn’t sound like “smash” when it breaks.
However, along with “shatter,” it’s one of the most popular onomatopoeia choices for English writers because it conveys the meaning well enough with a reasonable sound.
“Smash” works well and can be used in the following ways:
- The smash I heard after the window glass broke into a thousand pieces was incredible.
- You smashed the glass in your hands with such power!
- That smash was unlike anything I’ve heard before!
- You managed to smash the glass by simply holding it!
“Crack” is the first true onomatopoeia word on this list that people all agree on. However, it is also more specific than the other two mentioned so far.
“Crack” is a good word to talk about the noise that glass makes after breaking. However, it mostly refers to a crack in the surface, which is a long line that breaks two or more sections apart in the glass. It doesn’t often work when talking about a full fragmented shattering.
The difference in scale between “crack” and “shatter” is the most important distinction we need to make when using these words correctly. A “crack” is much smaller than a “shatter.”
“Crack” might work as follows:
- When I dropped it, I heard a crack. I don’t want to look and find it, though!
- There was a crack when it hit the floor.
- The window made a cracking noise, but I didn’t see anything collide with it!
- That was a serious crack! I can already sense the damage before seeing it!
A “crash” is similar to a “smash.” It’s synonymous and on the same level as an onomatopoeia word. The only reason it isn’t as high on this list as “smash” is because it’s broader and can refer to multiple things rather than just the breaking sound of glass.
The definition of “crash,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “to hit something, often making a loud noise or causing damage.”
Just “smash,” “crash” is another ambiguous onomatopoeia word. We can use it to talk about a huge amount of damage to glass, but it isn’t technically the noise made when the glass does break.
You could use “crash” in the following ways:
- I heard a crash, and when I came in, I saw the window fragments all over the floor.
- The crash the glass made when it broke was immense.
- The crashing sound I heard from the chandelier was unlike anything else I’d heard before!
- Crash! That’s the noise the glass made!
In terms of scale, a “tinkle” is the smallest break of all on this list. It’s a good onomatopoeia word because it refers to that light ringing sound that small glass objects make after being dropped. When you inspect them, you can usually see a tiny crack has begun to form.
The definition of “tinkle,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “a light ringing sound.”
“Tinkle” can also occur with large objects, but it’s less common. A window can “tinkle” for example, but because it’s such a large thing, it often tends to “crack” instead of “tinkle.”
You might see “tinkle” used in the following ways:
- It made a soft tinkle when I saw him drop it on the ground!
- I’m sorry, but this is definitely broken because I heard the tinkle it made!
- That was a tinkle! I heard it! You just have to find where it broke.
- I dropped the glass, but all I heard was a slight tinkle.
You may also like: 12 Words To Describe The Sound Of A Bell (Onomatopoeia)
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.