Poetry: Rhyme

My guess is that everyone is familiar with rhyming poems and therefore fairly confident that they understand the concept of ‘rhyme’. But there is much more to rhyme than just two lines ending in rhyming words. So what is rhyme in poetry all about?

Rhyming ranges from the basic and tedious to the complicated, intricate, beautiful – and everything else in between; it involves the use of similar sounds in two or more words, eg: Roses are red / Violets are blue / Sugar is sweet / And so are you.


Poetry: rhyme type

As well as the above simple end rhyme, there are a number of different types of rhyme:

  • Perfect – there are several rhyme types where the rhyme is located in the final word of a poem: masculine – in the final syllable (as in the above example); feminine – in the penultimate or second last syllable, dactylic – in the third last syllable; monorhyme – uses only one rhyming sound repeatedly in a stanza.
  • General – these kinds of rhyme rely on phonetic similarities and include: syllabic – the last syllable of each word sounds the same; imperfect – a rhyme between a stressed and an unstressed syllable. (ring, crying); unaccented – a rhyme between two sets of unstressed syllables; semi-rhyme – which has an extra syllable on one word (mind, finding); oblique – is an imperfect sounding rhyme; (tonne, thumb); assonance – rhymes by matching vowels (bake, rate); consonance – includes matching consonants; slant rhyme – has words with matching final consonants (bent, ant); pararhyme – is where all the consonants match (fell, fall); alliteration – matches the initial consonants (sharp, short).
  • Identical – uses homophones (words pronounced the same but with different meanings, eg: principal / principle), or homonyms (words with the same spelling and pronunciation but different meanings, eg: river mouth, mouth on a face).
  • Eye rhyme – words that share some identical spelling so they look similar, but are actually pronounced differently (enough/bough, bow/sow).


Poetry: rhyme position

Rhyme position or arrangement: this refers to where in the line the rhyme is positioned.

  • End rhyme – has the rhyme placed in the final syllable.
  • Internal rhyme – this is when a word at the end of the line rhymes with a word within the line.
  • Holorhyme – is where two entire lines rhyme.
  • Off-centered rhyme/misplaced rhyme scheme/spoken word rhyme – is where an internal rhyme occurs in unexpected places within a line.


These are by no means extensive lists or exhaustive definitions, but they do illustrate how complex poetry CAN be and how much scope there is for a writer to play around and have fun with poetry.


Poetry resources

Creative Writing Now: Rhyme Schemes

Poetry Foundation: Rhyme: Glossary

Daily Writing Tips: When Should Poetry Rhyme


Poetry exercise

Choose a simple word. From the top of your head write down as many words meaning the same thing, then look the word up in a thesaurus and see how many other words you could have listed.

Next write a list of all the words you can think of that rhyme with your original word, then look the word up in a rhyming dictionary to see how you went.

Finally, using all these words, try writing a few lines of poetry using different types of rhyme and varying the position of the rhyme.

Feel free to share your responses in the comments box below.


Keep an eye out on Monday for further detail about poetry.


Photo credit: Typewriter

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