In my last ‘sounds’ post, I looked at noises often heard in a city, such as the ‘hum’ of traffic and sirens ‘wailing’. Today I’m focusing on some more pleasant sounds – those often heard outdoors.
Let’s start with the nicest sound of all – birdsong. For this, we use several onomatopoeic words (= words that sound similar to the noises the words refer to). For example, for the short, high sound that birds make, we say tweet, chirp and cheep. (‘Cheep’ is often used for the weaker sound of a baby bird.)
A bird was tweeting away outside my window. / You could hear the birds chirping in the hedgerow. / It sounded like the cheeping of a baby bird.
All is quiet except for the birds twittering. / The only sound was the chatter of birds.
Finally for birds, the word warble suggests a continuous sound, with rapidly changing notes: She loved to hear the birds warbling in the spring.
Of course, birdsong isn’t the only sound we hear outdoors. The wind in the trees may cause the leaves to rustle (=make a soft dry sound):
Leaves rustled in the breeze.
If the wind blows hard and makes a lot of noise, we sometimes describe it as howling:
The wind howled and the trees groaned.
When the wind blows more gently, making a long, soft sound, we may say, poetically, that it sighs:
I love to hear the wind sighing through the pines.
She awoke to a loud clap of thunder.
We could hear the rumble of distant thunder.
Let’s turn now to water sounds. If you’re lucky enough to live near the sea, on a windy day when the sea is rough, you may hear the waves crashing on the shore. On a calmer day, you might hear the waves lapping the shore (=hitting it gently, making quiet sounds):
From her bed, she could hear the waves crashing on the shore.
He closed his eyes and listened to the waves lapping the shore.
We walked by a babbling brook.
A nearby stream gurgled its way down the hill.
At the bottom of the garden is a burbling stream.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this round-up of outdoor sounds. In Part 3, I’ll look at noises that we hear inside our homes.