Q: What one and two syllable English words are hard to rhyme?

A:

In The Poet's Craft Book, Clement Wood defines "rhyme" thus
Rhyme is the identity in sound of an accented vowel in a word, usually the last one accented, and of all consonantal and vowel sounds following it; with a difference in the sound of the consonant immediately preceding the accented vowel.
A few pages later Wood says

If a poet commences,

October is the wildest month,

he has estopped himself from any rhyme; since "month" has no rhyme in English.

"Month," "silver," and "orange" are frequently cited as words that cannot be rhymed. But this is not so. Below is a list of words that are difficult to rhyme, but that have either true rhymes that are rare words or vowel rhymes. Vowel rhyme (or "assonance") consists of identity of final accented vowel sound, with dissimilarity of subsequent consonantal and unaccented vowel sounds.

Word Rhyme Assonance --------------- --------------------------------------- -------------- aitch brache [NI2+?, taich [NI2+? naish angry unangry [NI2+? aggry angst lanx beards weirds breadth death bulb pulp carpet charpit chimney timne, polymny [NI2+? cusp wusp [NI2? bust depth stepped eighth faith else fels belts exit direxit [RHD+? sexist fiends teinds, piends filched hilched [NI3+?, milched [NI2? zilch filth spilth, tilth fifth drift film pilm [NI3+? kiln fluxed luxed [NI3+?, muxed [NI3+? ducked glimpsed rinsed gospel hostile gulf pulse leashed niched, tweesht [NI2+? lemon Bremen, hemen [NI3+?, Yemen liquid wicked mollusk smallest mouthed southed month oneth [Note 1?, n+1th [Note 2? grumph mulcts bulks mulched gulched [NI3+? bulged ninth pint oblige cytopyge [NI3? bides of sov oomph sumph [NI3+? orange sporange pint jint [NI2+? bind poem phloem, proem pregnant regnant purple curple [NI3+?, hirple [NI3+? puss schuss rhythm smitham scalds balds, caulds [NI3+?, faulds [NI3+? scarce stairs, clairce [NI2?, hairse [NI2+? cares sculpts gulps silver chilver [NI3+? sixth kicks spirit squiret [NI2+? tenth nth bent tsetse baronetcy, intermezzi, theetsee tuft puffed, yuft twelfth health wasp knosp [NI3+? widow kiddo width bridge window indo, lindo wolf bulls

Note 1:

Justified by analogy with "thousandth," "hundredth," "tenth."

Note 2:

Justified by analogy with "nth". A citation: "The Nature of Rationality," Robert Nozick, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1993, p. 21

Unless noted otherwise, all words occur in Webster's Tenth Collegiate Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Springfield, MA, 1994.

NI3 = Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary NI2 = Merriam-Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition OED = Oxford English Dictionary RHD = Random House Unabridged Dictionary

  • means slang, foreign, obsolete, dialectical, etc.

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