A sound word for an abrupt encounter. You know just what it is the moment you hear it; that rap on a melon you hear could as easily be a rap on your melon. The low opening knock receives a hollow nasal resonance and a high echo. The b, bellied out like a balloon, is chopped and popped to a k. This word has the dumb tones of bunk and bum and some of the hardness of conk and the rudeness of honk, but if you try to bank it you will hit a wall (and, if you are a runner, when you “hit the wall,” bonk is what happens – that sound of your blood sugar level hitting bottom). Some people use it more loosely when two bodies bump with each other. Oddly, this obvious onomatopoeia appears to be a child of the 20th century. We feel sure that it will not go away as long as the school of hard knocks is holding classes.

One response to “bonk

  1. The title column for my next book of columns coming out this fall is called A Bonk on the Head. It is based on an incident where I nearly lost my life when a car drove over a manhole from which I was just emerging. Bonk is definitely the word!!!

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