Epeolatry Sunday: goshi goshi and other amuses-bouches

This week’s episode of Epeolatry Sunday is dedicated to one of my favourite categories of words: the onomatopoeia.

My father, bless his heart, sends me all sorts of internet oddities he thinks (usually quite rightly) that I might enjoy and one of this week’s was a classic “list of untranslatable words in X language” – in this case, Japanese. At the end of the list was a wonderful collection of onomatopoeias (sometimes referred to as mimetic words). Most people, when they think “onomatopoeia” immediately turn to animal and body sounds – which, a quick internet search tells me is a growing area of hobby/study, apparently (If you have a few minutes to ponder the implications of why English eaters go nom nom while their German counterparts say mampf mampf click here).


A list of fabulous Japanese onomatopoeias via The Odessey Online

However, onomatopoeias are far more than just animal noises. Some of the most fun words to say in the English language are onomatopoeias – such as splat, sniff, rustle, thump, thud, hub bub, clatter, or screech. And, as they have done with so many things, the Japanese have taken the onomatopoeia to ever greater heights and applied it to all sorts of adjectives, including one of my all time favourite words: doki doki, which imitates the sound of a racing heart and describes a state of nervousness or excitement.

However, today is dedicated to a new favourite of mine. I’m not sure if it can be used as a verb as well – if anyone out there knows, please tell me!

goshi goshi: (adj) the sound of vigorous scrubbing.

Because, really, it’s exactly what it sounds like.




  1. Good list of these types of words! I knew goshi-goshi from teaching my son to wash his hands, but never heard “batan kyuu” before

    1. Thank you! 🙂

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