The UVic Writer's Guide


Words rhyme when their concluding syllables have a similar sound. Two words are said to rhyme if their last stressed vowel and the sounds that follow it match (as in "afar" and "bizarre," "biology" and "ideology," or "computer" and "commuter").

End-rhymes are words at the end of successive lines which rhyme with each other:

The cow is of the bovine ilk;
One end is moo, the other milk.
(Ogden Nash)

Internal rhymes are rhyming words within a line: "The sails at noon left off their tune" (Coleridge, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" [1797]).

A distinction is also made between masculine rhyme, in which only one syllable rhymes ("loud" and "proud"), and feminine rhyme, in which the rhyme extends over more than one syllable, both stressed and unstressed ("cooking" and "looking").

A perfect rhyme is one in which the two sounds correspond exactly ("by hook or by crook"). In partial rhyme the sounds are similar but not identical:

Then say not Man's imperfect, Heaven in fault;
Say rather, Man's as perfect as he ought....
(Pope, "An Essay on Man")

Note, however, that differences in dialect and the evolution of the language make some rhymes more or less perfect over time; thus in the seventeenth century "prove" and "love, "brazen" and "reason" were perfect rhymes.

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Copyright, The Department of English, University of Victoria, 1995
This page updated September 23, 1995