I'm looking for words that can describe the repetitive sounds that machine produces (For example an engine). Those droning, looped and long-lasting sounds. Patterned sounds of various parts of an engine or an engine as a whole machine.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Kris, Benyamin Hamidekhoo, choster, Hellion, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Oct 25 '13 at 15:15

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  • All machines do not make the same (or even similar) sound. A machine's sound is distinctive. How do you define a 'machine,' for that matter? – Kris Oct 25 '13 at 13:47
  • Writing a cyberpunk novel, are we? :-) – T.E.D. Oct 25 '13 at 14:05
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    If you're generalising, the best options to use may be 'whirring', or maybe 'clanking'. – mikhailcazi Oct 25 '13 at 14:57
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    The best I can think of a "hum" as in "we heard the hum of machinery". That may suggest a quiet or distant sound, or it might not. – apsillers Oct 25 '13 at 14:58
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    Unless it is a large factory machine, which would grind, groan and creak, but not 'whir". This really would depend completely on the kind of machine you've got, and could actually be a LOT of different sounds all at once. – Zibbobz Oct 25 '13 at 14:59

You aren't going to find a single answer for this, because there are MANY different kinds of machines that produce many different sounds.

A basic home computer has the whir and buzz of a fan, with the buzzing of various computer parts inside, occasionally a gentle hum, and in distressing cases, a loud but droning beep.

A large factory machine, on the other hand, would squeak all about in places that are not well-oiled, whir softly in all the places that it needs ventilation, bellow in places that need a great deal of ventilation, hiss if any sort of steam is required in the process, and roar if you are near the furnace, among many, many other things that might be a part of the machine.

Anything with gears will grind as the gears press together, and may also squeak, or even clank as they press together.

Pistons hammer, pound and drum as they hit a surface, if they hit a surface at all.

Boilers would steam, but also bubble and perhaps even groan at the strain of the boiling water held within.

I could go on and on about the kinds of sounds and noises machines make, but the reality is that the answer is entirely dependent on exatly what kind of machine you have. From there, it can be a vast variety of sounds.

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    Question is updated. – AnotherGuest Oct 25 '13 at 15:06
  • Added a bit about boilers, but otherwise this should help you get a few ideas. – Zibbobz Oct 25 '13 at 15:09

James Thurber would suggests


In his The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Thurber's milquetoast character daydreams himself into a number of heroic roles in which he saves the day, such as a brilliant surgeon, a combat pilot, a deadly assassin. A theme throughout is the reference to the various, very different, machines (the engine of a hydroplane, an anesthetizer(?), flamethrowers) in these episodes each going ta-pocketa-pocketa-pocketa.

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