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Rhyming Dictionary

Rhyming Dictionary

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  • Introduction
  • Rhythm and Meter
  • Rhyme
  • The Stanza
  • The Metric Line
  • Forms of Lyric Verse
  • Word Play in Rhyme
  • Caution: Identicals Do Not Rhyme
  • Step 1: Determine the Sort of Rhyme You Need
  • How to Use the List of Rhyming Words
  • Finer Points
  • Single Rhymes
  • Double Rhymes
  • Triple Rhymes
  • How Dreka’s Blotting-Case Fathered a Glossary
  • Glossary
  • To Use the Glossary Effectively, Remember That . .
  • Index of First Lines of Verses


Including A Primer of Prosody 9 A List of More Than
80,000 Words That Rhyme 9 A Glossary Defining
9,000 of the More Eccentric Rhyming Words 9
And a Variety of Exemplary Verses, One of Which
Does Not Rhyme at All

Updated by Orin Hargraves

WORDS TO RHYME WITH, A Rhyming Dictionary, Third Edition

Third edition copyright © 2006 by Louise M. Espy
Original edition copyright © 1986 by Willard R. Espy

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,
including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the
publisher. For information contact:

Facts On File, Inc.
An imprint of Infobase Publishing
132 West 31st Street
New York NY 10001

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Espy, Willard R.

Words to rhyme with: a rhyming dictionary: including a primer of prosody, a list of more than 80,000 words that rhyme,
a glossary defining 9,000 of the more eccentric rhyming words, and a variety of exemplary verses, one of which does not
rhyme at all / Willard R. Espy.— 3rd ed. / updated by Orin Hargraves.

p. cm.
Includes index.
ISBN 0-8160-6303-6 (acid-free paper)
1. English Language—Rhyme—Dictionaries. 2. English language—Versification. I. Hargraves, Orin. II. Title.
PE1519.E87 2006


Facts On File books are available at special discounts when purchased in bulk quantities for businesses, associations, institutions,
or sales promotions. Please call our Special Sales Department in New York at 212/967-8800 or 800/322-8755.

You can find Facts On File on the World Wide Web at http://www.factsonfile.com

Cover design by Cathy Rincon
Text design adapted by James Scotto-Lavino

VB FOF 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Printed in the United States of America

This book is printed on acid-free paper.

You’d Be a Poet, But You Hear It’s Tough? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . v
Author’s Note . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii
To Charles F. Dery: A Dedication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .ix
Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .xi
Foreword to the New Edition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xv
Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xvii
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
Rhythm and Meter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3
Rhyme . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4
The Stanza . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7
The Metric Line . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10
Forms of Lyric Verse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16
Word Play in Rhyme . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31
Caution: Identicals Do Not Rhyme . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41
How to Use the List of Rhyming Words . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .45
Step 1: Determine the Sort of Rhyme You Need . . . . . . . . . . .45
Step 2: Determine the Vowel Sound Your Rhyme
Begins With . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46
Step 3: Determine the Sound Pattern That Follows
the Stressed Syllable of Your Source Word . . . . . . . . . . . . .46
Finer Points . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48
Single Rhymes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .53
Double Rhymes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .157
Triple Rhymes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .409
Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .533
How Dreka’s Blotting-Case Fathered a Glossary . . . . . . . . . .533
To Use the Glossary Effectively, Remember That . . . . . . . . .535
Appendix A: Meaning of the Number Keys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .669
Appendix B: Additional Words Ending in -mancy . . . . . . . . . . .670


Appendix C: Additional Words Ending in -mania . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 672
Appendix D: Additional Words Ending in -phobia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 673
Index of First Lines of Verses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 677
Quotations on Rhyme, Rhythm, and Poetry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 681

You’d be a poet, but you hear it’s tough?
No problem. Just be strict about one rule:

No high-flown words, unless your aim is fluff;

The hard thought needs the naked syllable.
For giggles, gauds like pseudoanti-
disestablishment fulfill the purpose well;
But when you go for guts, the big words miss:
Trade “pandemonic regions” in for “hell.”

. . . Important poems? Oh . . . excuse the snort . . .
Sack scansion, then—and grammar, sense, and rhyme.
They only lie around to spoil the sport—
They’re potholes on the road to the sublime.

And poets with important things to say
Don’t write Important Poems anyway.

You’d Be a Poet, But
You Hear It’s Tough?


It is not unusual for the writers of handbooks like this one to slip
in a few verses of their own making. I have gone a bit further than
that. In this book I resurrect no moth-eaten old lines from such has-
beens as Shakespeare or Milton. With the exception of one borrowed
quatrain from the Latin and a contributed verse consisting of lines, all
the verses are my own. Most of those in the early chapters have been
published before (some appear here in slightly modified form); most
of those in the rhyming list, and I think all those in the glossary, were
written specially for this book.
Mind you, these are not Poems. They are jingles—nominies—
doggerel—amphigories. They should serve to remind you that one
need not be a Poet with a capital P to have a capital time putting
rhymes together. They should also challenge you to prove that at least
you can rhyme better than that.

—W. R. E.

Author’s Note



Some sleepers, myself included, occasionally dream in color; but
of my acquaintance, only Charles F. Dery admits to dreaming
regularly in puns. In the example he described most recently, a young
woman turns down his offer of a canoe ride: “I hear,” she explains,
“that you are a big tipper.”
That Charles, in his eighties, continues to pun even when asleep is
itself enough to justify this dedication, but I have a defensive reason
for it as well. He is a person of deadly critical faculties, sometimes
loosely leashed; a few appreciative words written now may save me
from having to read a twenty-page letter, with footnotes, listing just
the more egregious errors he has uncovered in his first half-hour with

Words to Rhyme With.

The preceding paragraph was a joke, Charles, I owe you this
dedication because when it comes to choosing the right word for the
occasion you are the quickest draw in the West. You are, moreover,
the person who provided me with not one rhyme for “purple” but
two, both from Scotland—first hirple, meaning “gimpy,” and then
the glorious curple, meaning “horse’s ass.” Language for you is both
a mistress to embrace and a divinity to worship. I have found you a
peerless guide to the magical world of words at play, and count you
a dear friend to boot.
Thank you, Charles.

—W. R. E.

To Charles F. Dery:
A Dedication

Words to Rhyme With aches from every ill a rhyming guide
produced by an amateur, more or less single-handedly, is
heir to. Misspellings, missed rhymes, misplaced stresses, and the like
abound. I should have hired a crew.
Still, others were present, or almost so, at the creation, most of
them without realizing it. I cannot think of a way to blame them for
my errors, but at least they should share the credit for any redeeming
features you find here.
Steven Wortman, for instance, turned over the first earth for this
book back in 1981. I gave him as many different rhyming dictionar-
ies as I could find in the bookstores, and he tirelessly and expertly
collated the rhymes.
So the authors of those rhyming dictionaries are in some
measure the authors of this one. I do not remember who they all
were, but I do recall Burges Johnson, who wrote New Rhyming
Dictionary and Poet’s Handbook (1931); Clement Wood, author of
The Complete Rhyming Dictionary and Poet’s Craft Book (1934);
and Frances Stillman, whose The Poet’s Manual and Rhyming
Dictionary appeared in England in 1966. More recently I found
unexpected words in The Penguin Rhyming Dictionary (1985), by
Rosalind Fergusson.
I next leafed through The American Heritage Dictionary (1969), a
top-drawer reference at university level. From there I proceeded to
four unabridged dictionaries: The Encyclopaedic Dictionary (1896),
which is less comprehensive than today’s mastodons but lends comfort
by its admirably simple phonetic system; Webster’s New International
Dictionary, Second Edition (1959); Webster’s Third New International
Dictionary (1961, with addenda in 1981); and The Oxford English
Dictionary (1970, with supplements through SCZ).
I watched for additional words in the course of my general
reading. Since many were too new on the scene to show up in my regular



references, I checked their bona fides in The Barnhart
Dictionary of New English Words since 1963 and The
Second Barnhart Dictionary of New English Words,

both by Clarence L. Barnhart, Sol Steinmetz, and
Robert K. Reinhart; The Morrow Book of New Words,
by N. H. and S. K. Mager; and Merriam-Webster’s
9,000 Words, a supplement to the Third.
Three teeming sources of outré terms were
Words, by Paul Dickson; Mrs. Byrne’s Dictionary
of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words, by
Josefa Heifetz Byrne; and Hobble-de-hoy, The Word
Game for Geniuses, by Elizabeth Seymour. The
extra words ending in -mancy in Appendix B are
from Words. Those ending in -mania and -phobia
(Appendixes C and D) are from a remarkable
collection, still unpublished as I write, by Rudy

Richard E. Priest volunteered over drinks one
day the elegant locution sesquitricentennial, mean-
ing “four hundred and fiftieth.” I owe to William
Cole a persuasive rationale for taking all the trouble
this book required. He pointed out that tens and
tens of thousands of poets nowadays shun rhyme
as if it were herpes. They will need Words to Rhyme
With to know which words to avoid.
Jan McDonald typed the glossary. The speed
of her word processor matches that of the space
shuttle, and she appears incapable of hitting the
wrong key. Recalcitrant words (hippopotomonstro-
sesquipedalian is a minor example) flowed flaw-
lessly from her fingers, along with their phonetic
equivalents (in this instance, hip.o.pot'o.mons'tro.
I extend warm thanks to Steven Wortman; to
Burges Johnson and Clement Wood (though they
can scarcely be still alive); to Frances Stillman,
Rosaline Fergusson, and Elizabeth Seymour; to
the compilers of the rhyming dictionaries I have
forgotten; to those responsible for the other stan-
dard dictionaries on my list; to Messrs. Barnhart,
Steinmetz, Reinhart, and Mager (though I have
only initials for the given names of the Magers; per-

haps they are Madams or Mademoiselles); to Mrs.
Byrne, Mr. Dickson, and Mr. Ondrejka; to Richard
Priest; to Bill Cole; and to Jan McDonald.
And especially, to Louise. For better or worse,
she once said. For better or worse, this book could
not have been completed without her.

Espy Verses from Earlier Books

My thanks to the following publishers for per-
mission to use the verses indicated:

Bramhall House, The Game of Words: A Dream
of Couth; Applesauce; Drinking Song; Looking
Glass Logic; New Words for an Old Saw; Noel,
Noel; Oops! You Almost Picked up the Check; On
an Aging Prude; Passion’s a Personal Perception;
Singular Singulars, Peculiar Plurals; The Cry of
a Cat’s a Meow; Venereally Speaking; Words in

Doubleday & Company, Say It My Way:
Although Informal Speech Is Free; Get That “Get”;
Grammatical Usage for Stompers; Graveyard
Square; I’d Say in Retrospect; My Idol, Your Idle;
On a Distinguished Victorian Poet Who Never
Pronounced His Name the Same Way Twice;
On the Correct Use of Lie and Lay; Polonius to
Laertes: a Grammatical Farewell; The Heaving of
Her Maiden Breast; To a Young Lady Who Asked
Me to “Do” Her in a Thumbnail Sketch.
Clarkson N. Potter, An Almanac of Words
at Play: A Classical Education; A Mouse of
My Acquaintance; A Positive Reaction; Bless
These Sheep; E Pluribus Unum; Facsimile of a
Love Song; Forecast, Chilly; Haikus Show IQ’s;
Identity Problem in the Mammoth Caves; I Love
You to Infinity; In-Riddle; I Scarce Recall; Love’s
a Game; Macaulay Tells Us; My Amnesty to All;
Never Emberlucock or Impurgalize Your Spirits
with These Vain Thoughts and Idle Concepts;
Pre-Parental Plaint; Some May Promise Riches;
The Mrs. kr. Mr.; There Are Numerous Locutions



Words to Rhyme With


to Express the Idea of Never; The Susurrant
Schwa; To a Praying Mantis; To a Young Poetess;
Typesetting Tarradiddle; When Charon Ferries
Me Across the Styx; Wild Boars and Lions Haul
Admetus’ Car.

Clarkson N. Potter, Another Almanac of Words
at Play: A Pest Iamb, Anapest Rick Ballad Was;
Brooklyn Love Song; Centripetal, Centrifugal;
Charles Dickens and the Devil; Concede, My
Own; Consider Now the Quark; Elegy for My
Late Friend and Tailor, Canio Saluzzi; For Isaac
Asimov; For Planets Forsaken; Grammar in
Extremis; Had I Butt Nude; I Have a Little
Philtrum; I Was a Stranger; I Was Prodigal with
Time; Kitchy-koo; Larva, Pupa, Imago; Let Us
Wonder, While We Loiter; Love Song; Manon?
Mais Non; My Chinese Miss; Now, a Little
While; Ode to an Elevator; On Joseph Brodsky’s
Contention; On the Hermit Crab; Our Love Will
Never Dwindle, Being Never; Resquiescat in Pace;

Round (a Roundelet); Scratch That Mudblower—
One Love-Maiden to Go; The Active and the
Passive Voice; There Ought to Be a Law; There’s
Seldom Been a Man I Knew; They Were as Fed
Horses in the Morning; To God the Praise; Up-
and-Down Counting Song.
Clarkson N. Potter, A Children’s Almanac of
Words at Play: The Pygmy Race Were Little Guys;
Incident in a World’s Series Game.
Harper & Row, The Garden of Eloquence:
Alliteration’s Artful Aid; Don’t Tell Me No
Grammatic Rules; If Love Be Fine, As Some
Pretend; O Mangy Cat, O Scruffy Cat.
Simon & Schuster, Have a Word on Me: A
Man in Our Town, Cal Y-clempt; A Certain Paris
Avocat; Bactrian Camels Have Two Humps; Don
Juan at College; Forgotten Words Are Mighty
Hard to Rhyme; God Argues Constantly with Me;
I Find It Curiositive; I Would I Were a Polyglot;
Jogger, Jog; Veritas Mutatur.

Words to Rhyme With



It has been a pleasure and a privilege for me to spend these past
few months updating Willard Espy’s Words to Rhyme With. The
process of combing through the lists and enjoying Mr. Espy’s clever
and imaginative poems along the way has earned me an acquaintance
with what must surely be one of the 20th century’s most nimble and
adept minds in the world of words. You cannot spend much time in
this book without concluding that Mr. Espy’s wit was a source of
delight to all of those around him.
Since this book was first published, technology has developed
many new and useful ways to slice and dice large volumes of text. A
benefit arising from this facility is that the computer can now come
to the aid of the seeker of rhymes: Databases of phonetically marked
words can be queried to yield up all the known rhymes to a given
combination of sounds. This not only yields up unlikely rhymes that
conventional seekers would not have known to look for (Cornwallis
and Gonzalez; checksum and Wrexham; Olestra and Clytemnestra), it
also spares the eyes and fingers of the compiler who, in earlier years,
would have to page laboriously through wordlists to insure that all
the pertinent matches had been found.
Technology has also added many new words to English, and
continues to do so daily. In choosing the hundreds of new addi-
tions to this book, however, my emphasis has been on usefulness.
Technological, medical, and scientific terms have been added if they
are (1) relatively short (and therefore conducive to use in rhyme); (2)
reasonably well known; or especially (3) if they supplied a rhyme
or a category of rhymes that did not formerly exist in English. My
main intention in readying this book for writers of the 21st century
has been to add words that are in the mainstream vocabulary of

Foreword to the
New Edition


American speakers today, and therefore likely to
be considered candidates for rhyme in song, rap,
and poetry.

I have combed the latest editions of the American
college dictionaries and numerous other new word
sources, both published and unpublished, for entries
that may supply fodder for rhymers these days: This
has yielded up such neologisms as clawback, feebate,
and prebuttal. Additionally, I have also been able to
fill many gaps in Mr. Espy’s lists with older words
that his searches had overlooked, such as apogamy,
hat trick, measle, and snarly. Trademarks are used
with increasingly frequency as pop culture referenc-
es, so I also added many more of these to the lists:
among them Bake-Off, Fabergé, and Winnebago.
Acronyms and initialisms are an ever-increasing
form of shorthand for most speakers, and they
also fit handily into poetry, nearly always finding
a simple rhyme with the final letter—so I added
a number of these to the single rhymes, including
ASAP, DVD, and P2P. I also added many more
biographical and geographical names than appeared
in the earlier editions; these are of great value to
limericists, and wherever a name could be found to
fill a gap under a mother rhyme, it has been added:
thus, such additions as Bristol, Donizetti, Hormuz,
Jackson, and Tristan. Poets, songwriters, and rappers
today draw from a much wider field of reference
that the one encompassed by standard English, and
my intention has been to supply as much useful
material for them as could be found. Toward that
end, I have also added many words from informal
English and a number of “pronunciation spellings”
(e.g., lemme, gotta, shoulda).
Many new cross-references have been added to
direct the user to words that, for most Americans,
constitute perfect rhymes—even though by the
lights of Mr. Espy’s more precise diction, they
contained different vowels. Speakers today make

little distinction between vowels that Espy cat-
egorizes separately: Ä and O, for example. Cross-
references between entries based on these vowels
can now lead the user to many more useful
rhymes if the first category consulted does not
yield a desirable one.
In addition to all these improvements, many
users of this book, old and new, will appreciate the
completely rewritten “How to Use” section of the
book (beginning on page 45). Mr. Espy’s guide to
the book, while elegant and witty, presumed an
acquaintance with both phonetics and English
prosody that went beyond what would be reason-
able for many poets and rhymsters today, especially
younger ones. I have, however, attempted in rewrit-
ing the guide to retain as much of Mr. Espy’s style
and wit as was possible, in the hope that this repre-
sents the best of both worlds.
In one other respect we have made a con-
cession to modernity that was not counte-
nanced by Mr. Espy: We have added “Rhyming
Dictionary” to the subtitle of this book. As he
pointed out in his introduction, a dictionary
is, in the minds of most people, a book that
contains both words and definitions. However,
since so many people today buy their books
online, we did not wish to risk the possibility of
not being found by people searching for “rhym-
ing dictionary,” since nearly all other books that
systematically compile lists of rhyming words go
by that name. Besides that, modern technology
has also changed ideas about what a dictionary
is: Among today’s definitions is “a computer-
ized list used for reference,” and in that respect,
the work in hand certainly qualifies, and would
perhaps be seen by Mr. Espy now as a bona fide

—Orin Hargraves
Westminster, Md.



Words to Rhyme With

It seems as if ever since the world chimed and became resonant,
rhyming dictionaries have abounded. For years I used Burgess
Johnson’s New Rhyming Dictionary (1957—so it’s no longer new), but
the best rhyming dictionary, the one that comes closest to breaking
the genomic code of matching sounds, and the only rhyming diction-
ary that I allow in my house, is Willard R. Espy’s Words to Rhyme
With, first published in 1986. Unfortunately, it contains no rhyme for
Espy. There is merely a modest gap between esper and esta. I presume
such an omission signifies the uniqueness of Espy (as word, as aspi-
rate) on all verbal and nonverbal levels.
On page 2, however, we are told how Willard received the nick-
name Wede. When Willard was six or seven, he hero-worshipped
a ten-year-old named Aquila, pronounced a.kwil’a: “perhaps
because of an echo between that and my own name, Willard, the
neighbors began referring to us as if we were a monster with two
joined bodies: ‘Aquila-and-Willard.’ When Aquila announced
that he preferred to be called Quede (I have no idea why), they
immediately nicknamed me to match, and we became ‘Quede-
and-Wede.’ ”

Wede himself was quick to point out that one of the meanings of
his nickname is “to become mad.” Well, writing poetry has driven
many a sane person over the edge; compiling a rhyming diction-
ary can drive the most composed person to the nearest sanitarium.
Fortunately for all aspiring verse makers, Wede was not mad. Until
his death in 1999, he was an island of sanity, civility, and wit in a
world replete with crudeness and rudeness.
“I remember sitting in an oak tree,” Wede reminisced, “when I
was nine years old and reflecting that someday, I would be a great
poet, and then return to the small village of Oysterville, Washington
where I grew up.” He then told me that the interesting part of this
sentimental memory is that there are no oak trees in Oysterville.



However, he did marry—briefly—his high-school
sweetheart, whose name was Anne Hathaway.
Instead of becoming the great serious poet of his
daydreams, he became a great lover of word-play
and one of the more elegant light-verse writers of
his generation.

In the late 1960s he began sending anagram
verses to Punch magazine, which he collected after a
year or two, and with additional material became his
first book, Game of Words (1973). Here is a sample:

When I ___________ to be a father,
You ___________ my willingness to bother.
Now you ___________; you never knew
I’d leave the ___________ to you.

The verse is built around four anagrams, each a
combination of the letters a-d-e-i-p-r-s. Give up?
For the answers, make your way to the end of
this preface. Also, please note the willingness of
Wede to rhyme bother to father, thus accentuating
the true rhymes of the final couplet (see “Further
Thoughts on Rhyme” for an amplification of this
approach to rhyming).
The reason Espy’s skills as a verse writer were
frequently overlooked is because he published the
bulk of his work not as separate volumes of verse but
as part of his two wonderful almanacs of Words at
Play, or as examples of verse forms in his rhyming
dictionary, or in 10 other books on wordplay, the
Northwest, language, grammar, puzzles, and puns.
One of my favorites is his contribution to the
quest for “The Unrhymable Word: Orange”:

The four eng-
Wore orange

All his life Wede was a lover of language.
Bring Wede a new word, an attractive etymology,
a groaning pun, a peppery dish of word-play, an

obsolete word (such as baustrophedon, meaning
“turning, as turns the plowing ox”), and his eye
would light up with authentic joy.
What was Wede’s life like? He was educated
at the University of Redlands, California, and
the Sorbonne. After brief stints as a newspaper
reporter on two California dailies, he moved east
to join, in 1932, the The World Tomorrow in New
York City, a pacifist, socialist, Christian maga-
zine soon defunct. Later he published articles
in the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times
Magazine, Harper’s, American Heritage, Reader’s
Digest, the Nation, and Harvard Magazine.
For a brief time, Wede headed the Washington,
D.C., office of the North American Committee to
Aid Spanish Democracy, until, disillusioned with
the far left, he resigned. (No doubt there is an FBI
dossier on Wede somewhere.)
Wede returned to New York, where, as a copy
editor at L’Agence Havas, he turned French tele-
gramese into English. The news agency disap-
peared with the fall of Paris to the Nazis. Wede
went on to be promotion manager and director of
public relations at Reader’s Digest, leaving after 16
years. He became a public relations consultant; at
one time had a radio program interviewing celebri-
ties and semi-celebrities; and was creative advertis-
ing director of Famous Artists School in its better

A checkered career, to say the least, but the
kind that provides the astute verse writer with
a wide range of human foibles and inhuman
experience to satirize. Wede’s journalistic sense
of the appropriate detail, the telling bit of char-
acterization, were ingredients that found their
way into much of his writing. Wede frequently
fastened upon an odd fact, such as “the female
praying mantis consumes her mate in the process
of copulation” and meditate upon that subject in
verse (see his “For a Praying Mantis Standing in
Need of Prayer,” reprinted in The Random House
Treasury of Light Verse). When I think about


Words to Rhyme With


Wede’s precise rhymes and wide-ranging subject
matter, I am moved to cry out a variation on the
motto for the New York Times: “All the Muse
that’s fit to print.”
When it comes to recounting the life and work
of a poet and rhyme-collector, it is the work itself
that provides the final word. Wede’s verses rank
among the most graceful and skilled of contempo-
rary light verse. The fact that they provide amuse-
ment and insight into the human condition is not
to be discounted. His work is to be treasured, and

the numerous examples of his work to be found in
this book should be studied closely.

—Louis Phillips

The solution to the anagrammatic verse:

When I ASPIRED to be a father,
You PRAISED my willingness to bother.
Now you DESPAIR; you never knew
I’d leave the DIAPERS to you.

Words to Rhyme With



She warn’t particular; she could write about anything you choose to give
her to write about just so it was sadful. Every time a man died, or a woman
died, or a child died, she would be on hand with her “tribute” before he was
cold. She called them tributes. The neighbors said it was the doctor first,
then Emmeline, then the undertaker—the undertaker never got in ahead of
Emmeline but once, and then she hung fire on a rhyme for the dead person’s
name which was Whistler. She warn’t ever the same after that; she never com-
plained, but she kinder pined away and did not live long.

—Mark Twain in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Mark Twain was a rigidly honest man, so beyond doubt Emmeline
did indeed die of grief for want of a rhyme.
It is for addicts like Emmeline and me that one editor after another
has cobbled together rhyming lists, generally preceded by a treatise
on the craft (though not necessarily the art) of versification. But these
lists can never be entirely satisfactory. Many words simply refuse to
rhyme, even under torture; yet you would need a wheelbarrow to
transport the hundreds of thousands that do have rhyming matches.
So though I believe this book contains more rhyming words than
any of its contemporaries, it does not pretend to be complete—not
to mention that up to the last minute I was still thinking of obvious
words I had missed, while you are bound to think of equally obvious
words still missing.
Books of this genre often carry the rather showy word-pair
“Rhyming Dictionary” in the title; but in the sense that I understand
the term, they are not dictionaries at all. A distinguishing feature of
a dictionary, as far as I am concerned, is that it defines its entries.
Rhyming dictionaries never do. That is why my collection has to rest
content with the humbler name Words to Rhyme With, even though

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