What word best describes the sound made by an object passing through water for a prolonged period of time? "Whoosh" and "Splash" both come to mind, but neither really describes what I'm thinking of of. "Whoosh" sounds too airy and "Splash" connotes a sudden, loud, impact with a liquid as opposed to a gradual passage through it.

  • None of the words shown so far on this page (whoosh, splash, sploosh) correspond to "an object passing through water for a prolonged period of time", IMO. For that, you will need to give a better idea what you mean: what kind of object, for instance? The sound of an object traveling underwater depends mostly on the size and shape of the object. The words given so far correspond to an object hitting the water, including the ensuing sound of the moving water. They do not correspond to the sound of an object moving through the water. – Drew Feb 17 '14 at 6:45
  • @Drew A large fish, say 10 feet long, swimming through water that covers the bottom three quarters of its body. I'd say its travelling at about four miles an hour. It's moving in a S pattern, maybe splashing a little but mostly sliding through the water in a relatively graceful manner. – ApproachingDarknessFish Feb 17 '14 at 7:04

I think "swish" is the right onomatopoeic word for this. It is usually used for the sound of movement in air but it applies to water as well.

swish vb 1. to move with or make or cause to move with or make a whistling or hissing sound

swish sound of an object moving through air or water

Examples from books:

The Heart Mender by Sally Streib:

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Silent Victory By Clay Blair

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North Star of Herschel Island - the Last Canadian Arctic Fur Trading Ship By R. Bruce MacDonald

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After much though and inspired by the discussion on this page, the best word that I was able to find was "slosh".

  • A fish that glides through the water in a mostly graceful manner does not slosh, though, so if that is indeed the intended use, then ‘slosh’ is not a very good answer. Sloshing is more the sound that a person wading through knee-high water makes, or the sound you make plodding along in the rain on a muddy, squishy dirt road. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 21 '14 at 22:29
  • @ermanen I upvoted your answer because it was very helpful, but I think it's a bit pretentious to assert the word that I chose was "not the right answer" without elaborating on how it was appropriateness in context. Do you have any constructive criticism of my usage of slosh? – ApproachingDarknessFish Feb 22 '14 at 0:47
  • @ermanen Wow let's be really irritated with everyone – ksoo Feb 22 '14 at 4:51
  • @ermanen And I have no idea what kind of books you must be reading because I'm pretty sure "slosh" has been used as the sound something made when it moved through water before in a book I have read – ksoo Feb 22 '14 at 4:52

One option is the onomatopoeic word sploosh. It appears in a number of published works going back many decades. For example, from Kenneth Graham, The Wind in the Willows (1915):

Greatly alarmed, he [Mole] made a grab at the side of the boat, and the next moment — Sploosh! Over went the boat, and he found himself struggling in the river.

From Amazing Stories, issues 7–12 (1940) [snippet]:

Sploosh! The unseen surface [of the water] flew up at him like a floor. He pierced it as squarely as a plummeting bomb. At the risk of breaking his back, he cut his swift course upward ; and luckily, so, for he scraped rocks that projected from the bottom.

From Carter Dickson, Night at the Mocking Widow (1950) [snippet]:

... a sudden occasional gush like a water spout, kept it always fresh. To the crowd, pressing along the planks on either side, it was the biggest hit of the bazaar.

"Ol' parson do have some good notions, don't 'e? One wrong step, and — sploosh!"

"Ah, ol' parson's all right!"

""Like me to chuck 'ee in, Gert?"

From Life Around Us (1964) [snippet]:

Young seals sometimes slide down a smooth sloping sandbank and plunge headfirst into the sea with a sploosh. Down under the water they go—swimming and tumbling, and chasing each other in circles and somersaults.

From Mademoiselle, volume 62 (1965) [snippet]:

To a non skin diver, life in the company of an enthusiast is very much like living with a bubble. One minute he is with you in the boat or on the rock, then, sploosh!, into the sea he goes—and the only record you have of him for hours is an aerated movement on the surface of the sea.

From Texas Game and Fish, volumes 24–25 (1965) [snippet]:

Familiar sounds along the banks of the Colorado River in Central Texas often have been spiced with an occasional "zing— sploosh!" A brilliant day centuries ago might have beckoned Indians with their bows to fling their arrows into the into the river after a fat fish, and modern-day archers in the area have rediscovered this challenging activity.

  • 1
    ‘Sploosh’ is a brilliant word, but unfortunately, it doesn't quite fit the criteria here: like ‘splash’, it denotes the sound of impact with a liquid, rather than continued motion through it (as all the examples you cite also indicate). – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 17 '14 at 11:09

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