An interjection is either a single word or short groups of words that is used to express a feeling or emotion. Interjections can express such feelings as urgency, surprise, relief, joy, or pain. An interjection that expresses strong emotion is often followed by an exclamation mark. An interjection that expresses mild emotion is usually followed by a comma.



Let’s go! We can’t sleep before we find the missing boy (urgency).

Phew! I was afraid we would never find him (relief)

Oh, you have grown so big (surprise).

Well, I have never been so happy (joy)


Exercise 1

Identify the interjection in the following sentences and indicate what feeling or emotion it expresses.

  1. Say, have you heard about Nameless and Jua Kali, the famous Kenyan musicians.
  2. Wow! Seeing the calf being born was exciting.
  3. “All right!” I yelled to him.

“This is not right thing to do.”

  1. Boy! Some people felt wonderful being in the air balloon, but I felt nervous.
  2. Oh, did that boat rock back and forth for a while.



Exercise 1

  1. Say – wonderment
  2. Wow! – joy
  3. All right! – urgency
  4. Boy! – fear
  5. Oh – surprise


Formation and Origin of Words

Some words in the English language have unique origins and formations.

(i) Sound words (onomatopoeias)

Some of the words imitate the sounds they represent.

These words are called sound or onomatopoeic words.

For example, the words bang and crash describe a loud, sudden noise.

The word murmur describes a low, soft noise that keeps going.

Many English words imitate noises made by animals.

For example, the word chirp imitates the short, high sound made by a small bird or a cricket.


Other examples of sound (onomatopoeic) words

Beep gobble neigh squeal

Blast growl purr tick

Buzz hiss quack zip

Clang honk rip

Clatter hum roar

Crack meow smash

Crunch moo splash


Exercise 1

Write a sound word for each of the following descriptions.

  1. The sound of something breaking
  2. The loud, deep sound of a lion.
  3. The sound of a clock.
  4. The sound of an angry dog.
  5. The sound of a loud bell.
  6. The sound made by a duck.
  7. The sound of a bottle opening.
  8. The sound of a cat drinking milk.
  9. The sound of a bomb exploding.
  10. The sound of a snake.

(ii) Words that come from names of people and places (Eponyms)

Some of the words in the English language come from the names of people and places.



Word Meaning Named after Sandwich Two or more slices of bread with meat between them. John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, who liked eating meat between slices of bread. Maverick A person who breaks from conventional actions Samuel Maverick, a Texas cattle owner who refused to brand the calves of one of his herds as per the requirements.

Saxophone: A musical wind instrument,

Adolphe Sax, the Belgian inventor of the musical instrument.

Madras: A cotton cloth with a design or pattern on plain background Madras, a city in India, where it was invented.

Rugby, A game Rugby school.

England, where rugby was invented.

Tarantula A large, hairy spider Taranto, a town in Italy where Tarantulas are found.

Shylock, a greedy money-lender The relentless and vengeful money- lender in Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice.

Sousaphone, A musical instrument.  John Phillip Sousa, an American composer who invented the Sousaphone.

There are many more words in the English language which originated from names of people or places.


Exercise 2

Find out from your dictionary the origins and meanings of the following English words.

  1. Lima bean 6. Guppy          11. Guillotine
  2. Cardigan 7. Cheddar 12. Macadam
  3. Bloomer 8. Quisling 13. Pasteurisation
  4. Canary birds 9. Silhouette 14. Watt
  5. Ferris wheel 10. Marxism 15. ohm

(iii) Words formed from blending two or more words (portmanteau words)

Some words in the English language are a blend of two or more words or morphemes.



Word combination of meaning Smog Smoke + fog.  A combination of smoke and fog in the air.

Fantabulous Fantastic + fabulous Incredible, astonishing, unbelievable, wonderful Brunch Breakfast + lunch A late breakfast taken some hours before lunch Wikipedia Wiki + encyclopedia. A website Comcast Communication + broadcast Verizori Veritas + horizon Accenture Accent + future Spork Spoon + fork An eating utensil that is a combination of a spoon and a fork.

Skort Skirt + shorts An item of clothing that is part skirt and short.

Simulcast Simultaneous + broadcast To broadcast a programme on television and radio at the same time Cyborg Cybernetic + organism

Motel Motor + hotel A roadside hotel


Exercise 3

Identify the words that are blended to form the following words.

Find out their meanings from your dictionary.

  1. Slithy 6. Breathalyser
  2. Chortle 7. Cable gram
  3. Galumph 8. Camcorder
  4. Bash 9. Edutainment
  5. Blog 10. Email



Exercise 1

  1. Crack 6. Quack
  2. Roar 7. Pop
  3. Tick 8. Lap
  4. Growl 9. Boom
  5. Chime 10. Hiss


Exercise 2

  1. Lima bean – a broad, flat, pale-green or white bean used as a vegetable – named after Lima, the capital of Peru where it was grown first.
  2. Cardigan – a kind of a pullover or sweater that buttons down the front – named after J.T. Brudwell, the 7th Earl of Cardigan.
  3. Bloomer – a woman’s baggy and long garment for the lower body – named after Amelia Bloomer, an American women rights and temperance advocate.
  4. Canary birds – yellow songbirds – named after Canary Islands, Spain, where they are found in large numbers.
  5. Ferris wheel – a special wheel for an amusement park – named after the inventor G.W.Ferris.
  6. Guppy – the most popular freshwater tropical fish – named after R.J.L. Guppy, the man who introduced it in England.
  7. Cheddar – A firm Cheese – named after the English village of Cheddar, where it was first made.
  8. Quisling – a person who treacherously helps to prepare for enemy occupation of his own county, a traitor – named after Vidkum Quisling, a Norwegian politician.
  9. Silhouette – an outline portrait or profile – named after a French minister of finance, Etienne de Silhouette.
  10. Marxism – the political and economic theories of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels – named after Karl Marx.
  11. Guillotine – a device used for carrying out executions – named after Dr. Joseph Guillotine, the designer.
  12. Macadam – small, broken stones that are used for making roads – named after John L.

McAdam, a Scottish engineer who invented this kind of a road.

  1. Pasteurisation – the process of heating milk, wine, beer, or other liquids hot enough to kill harmful bacteria and to prevent or stop fermentation – named after Louis Pasteur, a French chemist, who invented the process.
  2. Watt – Unit of measuring electric power – named after James Watt, a Scottish engineer, who pioneered in the development of the steam engine.
  3. Ohm – a measure of electrical resistance – named after George S.Ohm, a German physicist.


Exercise 3

  1. Slithy – lithe + slimy 6. Breathalyser – breath + analyser
  2. Chortle – chuckle + short 7. Cablegram – cable + telegram
  3. Galumph – gallop + triumph 8. Camcorder – camera + recorder
  4. Bash – bang + smash 9. Edutainment – education + entertainment
  5. Blog – web + log 10. Email – electronic + mail

(iv) Words formed by use of prefixes and suffixes

Some words are formed addition of prefixes and suffixes to other words.


See also






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