Rhyme The repetition of identical or similar concluding syllables in different words, most often at the ends of lines. Rhyme is predominantly a function of sound rather than spelling; thus, words that end with the same vowel sounds rhyme, for instance, day, prey, bouquet, weigh, and words with the same consonant ending rhyme, for instance vain, feign, rein, lane. Words do not have to be spelled the same way or look alike to rhyme. In fact, words may look alike but not rhyme at all. This is called eye rhyme, as with bough and cough, or brow and blow.
End rhyme is the most common form of
rhyme in poetry; the rhyme comes at the end of the lines. For discussions of rhyme and an exercise, go to the VirtuaLit Interactive Poetry Tutorial.
It runs through the reeds
And away it proceeds,
Through meadow and glade,
In sun and in shade.
The rhyme scheme of a poem describes the pattern of end rhymes. Rhyme schemes are mapped out by noting patterns of rhyme with small letters: the first rhyme sound is designated a, the second becomes b, the third c, and so on. Thus, the rhyme scheme of the stanza above is aabb. Internal rhyme places at least one of the rhymed words within the line, as in "Dividing and gliding and sliding" or "In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud." Masculine rhyme describes the rhyming of single-syllable words, such as grade or shade. Masculine rhyme also occurs where rhyming words of more than one syllable, when the same sound occurs in a final stressed syllable, as in defend and contend, betray and away. Feminine rhyme consists of a rhymed stressed syllable followed by one or more identical unstressed syllables, as in butter, clutter; gratitude, attitude; quivering, shivering. All the examples so far have illustrated exact rhymes, because they share the same stressed vowel sounds as well as sharing sounds that follow the vowel. In near rhyme (also called off rhyme, slant rhyme, and approximate rhyme), the sounds are almost but not exactly alike. A common form of near rhyme is consonance, which consists of identical consonant sounds preceded by different vowel sounds: home, same; worth, breath.
The definitions in this glossary were adapted from The Bedford Introduction to Literature, Sixth Edition, by Michael Meyer