Is it (*sniff) or (/sniff)?

I’m reminiscing nostalgically on a personal blog and I want to insert an onomatopoeic sniff.

My days spent raiding dungeons in Hibernia are long over (/sniff) but …

I want the reader to know that I actually audibly sniffed a nostalgic sniff as I wrote that. I know there are no rules. I want to know what common conventions are out there and where they come from. I also feel that I am out of touch with what the younger cool kids are doing these days.

  1. (/sniff) This looks like an “emote” command common in (older?) online RPGs. I used to use this one a lot but refrain these days as the style choice is one only appreciated by a certain subculture of online gamers.
  2. (*sniff) I have seen this style before. I don’t know where it came from but it looks a bit like a comment in computer code.
  3. (sniff) Just putting the onomatopoeia in brackets seems a little unimaginative.

Are there other popularly recognised styles for inserting onomatopoeia out there?

2 Answers 2


What I have seen is not *sniff, but *sniff*, which, I believe, comes from Markdown (which is used on this site as well), where text framed by asterisks is rendered as italic.

The other common markup for onomatopoeia is, in fact, italics.

As I see it, the conventions are:

How sad. Sniff.

How sad. *sniff*

I have never seen *sniff* in print and would use it online only.

  • The Markdown connection. That's a good one. Jan 29, 2017 at 11:59

I'd like to add some information in addition to what's answer.

Firstly, it is commonplace to use italics to convey onomatopoeic sounds:

The rock fell down with a crash.

With a deafening whack, the saucepan man was hit over the head by his saucepan.

However, I wouldn't use it for verbs that imply sound.

For example:

The saucepan man grunted.

The saucepan man was cold, and he sniffed every two seconds.

I would advise you not to use things like *sniff or (sniff) because you are writing a blog, and not chatting in an online game :).

  • On a blog actually. I don't intend for the sniff to be parted of any sentence. Jan 29, 2017 at 11:57
  • How embarrassing! I didn't read your question accurately. Still, the same applies @lukejanicke Jan 29, 2017 at 11:58

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