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Let's Talk about Rhyme

What is rhyme?

Some writers may describe rhyme as a repetition of similar sounds that occur in two or more words at the end of lines in poems or songs. Some may simply say rhyme refers to the pattern of similar-sounding words used in literature. Others may say rhyme is a literary device in which similar concluding syllables in different words are repeated. I know you also have your definition of rhyme. This is how I define rhyme.

The definition of rhyme

Rhyme is a literary device in which similar sounds are repeated in the final syllables and any following syllables of two or more words. In rhyme, the sound being repeated in the syllables is usually almost the exact sound. Rhyme has an unbreakable relationship with poetry and songs.

Examples of words with rhyme


Blame game

Hustle and bustle

Nearest and dearest

Study buddy

Make or break

Meet and greet

Too cool for school

Examples of rhyme in works of literature

Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops,

Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?

Don’t you take it awful hard

‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines

Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?

Does it come as a surprise?

That I dance like I’ve got diamonds

At the meeting of my thighs?

(Still, I Rise by Maya Angelou)

In her poem Still, I Rise, Maya Angelou uses a rhyme scheme for her rhymes. Just to mention a few examples of rhyme in Maya Angelou’s poem, there are “eyes” and “cries”, there is “rise” and “surprise”.

“Hope” is the Thing with Feathers -

That perches in the soul -

And sings the tune without the words -

And never stops – at all -

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard -

And sore must be the storm -

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -

And on the strangest Sea -

Yet – never – in Extremity,

It asked a crumb – of me.

(“Hope” is the Thing with Feathers by Emily Dickinson)

Emily Dickinson also uses a rhyme scheme in her rhymes. The examples of rhymes in her poem are “soul” and “all”, “heard” and “Bird” among others.

Now, when a writer uses rhyme in his or her work, a rhyme scheme is created. Or rather a writer follows a rhyme scheme to create rhyme in his or her work. In Maya Angelou’s poem, you realize that the rhymes occur in the second and fourth lines, which produces the rhyme scheme ABCB.

In Emily Dickinson’s poem, there is the rhyme scheme ABCB in the first stanza (or the first four lines), the rhymes occur in the second and fourth lines (“soul” and “all”). The second stanza has the rhyme scheme ABAB (“heard” and “Bird”, and “storm” and “warm”). Let’s see what rhyme scheme you get in the third stanza. If it is ABBB, then you are doing great with learning rhyme and rhyme schemes.

Types of rhyme

Perfect rhyme

Slant rhyme

Feminine rhyme

Masculine rhyme

Eye rhyme

End rhyme

How to use rhyme in your work

Use a rhyme scheme

Now that you know what a rhyme scheme is, use it to guide your rhymes to make your work more appealing.

Explore different forms of poetry

There is a diverse choice of forms of poetry including ballads, limericks, and sonnets. Explore these poetic forms to master the use of rhyme in your work. You can also explore the different types of rhyme to get better at rhyming.

Rhyming deals with the repetition of sound. As the examples above illustrate, different words with different syllables can produce the same sound. Rhyme is important in writing (especially poetry) because it produces musicality in writing. This helps with memorability and the general appeal to an audience.


Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Keith Mbuya