If you have the time, let’s talk about rhymes! Now is sublime, but later is also . . . OK. Rhyming can be a powerful communication tool, both practical and entertaining. But how does it work, and when should you use it? Below, we talk all about words that rhyme in English that you can use to amuse!
What are rhyming words?
A rhyme is a repeated sound at the end of two or more words, like the -at sound in cat, hat, and bat. Rhyming words use the same sounds, called phonemes, to give speech and writing a pleasant appeal and to enhance memorability.
Note that phonemes don’t need to be spelled the same way to rhyme; they just need to sound the same. Likewise, some phonemes are spelled the same but sound different because of pronunciation.
When to use words that rhyme in English
Rhyming is a way to make what you’re saying more engaging. People are naturally attracted to rhymes, so writers and orators take advantage of this literary device to make their work more delightful.
Some types of writing—including limericks, sonnets, and song lyrics—incorporate rhyming intrinsically. In other words, rhyming in these mediums is not only normal but also expected. However, other works—including novels, plays, and even news articles—can use rhyming to add emphasis or simply to make their prose more fun.
Moreover, rhyming is effective for mnemonic devices and may help people remember your message. This is a common tactic in speeches, where the audience doesn’t have visual aids and may have difficulty remembering what was said. Lawyers, preachers, politicians, and other public speakers make good use of rhyme to have a greater impact on their audience.
If you’re having trouble thinking of rhymes, you can consult a rhyming dictionary. Some words are more difficult to rhyme than others, but rapper Eminem famously proved that by modifying the enunciation of words, you can rhyme almost anything, even the word orange.
4 types of rhyming words in English: by sound
1 Single (masculine)
Single rhymes, or masculine rhymes, are words that use the same sound in their final syllables. These are the most common types of rhyming words in English. They’re what people generally think of when they think of “rhymes.”
- coat → boat
- big → pig
- home → roam
2 Double (feminine)
Double rhymes, or feminine rhymes, are words that use the same sound in the last two syllables, where the final syllable is unstressed. The last syllables are often identical, and the second-to-last syllables vary.
- carry → marry
- duty → beauty
- power → flour
Dactylic rhymes are similar to double rhymes, except the last three syllables use the same sound, with the final two syllables often identical.
- typical → critical
- permission → admission
- humongous → among us
4 Slant rhymes (forced)
Slant rhymes, also known as forced, oblique, or imperfect rhymes, are words that almost rhyme. They end in phonemes that sound similar but are technically different. Because slant rhymes allow for more flexibility in word choice, they’re often used in poetry and songs.
- fast → class
- done → thumb
- listen → discipline
5 types of rhyming words in English: by position (rhyme schemes)
1 Tail rhyme (end rhyme, rime couée)
A tail rhyme occurs when two lines of text rhyme at the end. It is quite common in poetry, nursery rhymes, and children’s books, but it can also be used in more mature works by rhyming the ends of sentences.
Would you like them in a house? Would you like them with a mouse?
—Dr. Seuss, Green Eggs, and Ham
2 Internal rhyme
An internal rhyme occurs when the middle of a line rhymes with the end of the line or some other place. These are typical in rap and hip-hop lyrics, as well as fast-paced poetry, to create a stronger rhythm and make the words more engaging.
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December.
—Edgar Allan Poe, “The Raven”
3 Off-centered rhyme
Off-centered rhymes, also known as misplaced rhymes, are similar to internal rhymes, but they’re less structured. Off-centered rhymes can be fairly random, with rhyming words placed close together within a line or stanza in poetry, but in a way that’s unpredictable.
Acting brave and courageous ain’t advantageous for health and safety.
—Run the Jewels, “Run the Jewels”
4 Broken rhyme (split rhyme)
Broken rhymes, or split rhymes, occur when a line concludes prematurely to deliberately place a rhyming word at the end. Broken rhymes are often seen as avant-garde and used in more experimental works, such as spoken word or slam poetry.
Thank you for telling me there’s no need to open our relationship because being with me is already like being with fifty impossible people. Thank you for accepting my friend request for the fifth time this year.
—Andrea Gibson, “Fight for Love”
5 Cross rhymes
A cross rhyme is a variation of a tail rhyme in which the rhyming lines alternate, such as the first line rhyming with the third line and the second line rhyming with the fourth line. Cross rhymes typically follow an ABAB rhyme scheme, but there are variations.
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
—William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 18”
Rhyming words in English FAQs
What are rhyming words?
A rhyme is a repeated sound in two or more words, like the -at sound in cat, hat, and bat. Rhyming words use the same sounds, called phonemes, to give speech and writing a pleasant appeal and to enhance memorability.
When should you use words that rhyme in English?
Rhymes are acceptable in all forms of writing or speech, but don’t overdo it. Rhyming words stand out to readers and listeners, which makes them ideal when you want your audience to remember something. Otherwise, they can add a bit of flare and enjoyment to an otherwise drab passage.
What are the types of rhyming words in English?
- Single rhymes, or masculine rhymes, use the same sounds in the final syllables (bug → rug).
- Double rhymes, or feminine rhymes, use the same sounds in the last two syllables, but the final syllable is unstressed (carry → marry).
- Dactylic rhymes are similar to double rhymes, except they match the last three syllables (permission → admission).