Using the Rhyming Dictionary

A few years ago I took up writing limericks for National Poetry Month. Writing a limerick a day is both fun and difficult. What helped the most? My rhyming dictionary. RhymeZone is an online tool that helps you find rhymes, near rhymes, synonyms, descriptive words and more.

For writing something like a limerick the rhyming dictionary becomes a helpful tool for rhyming options. Sometimes I feel limited by my own ability to pull a word out of thin air. Having an exhaustive list of rhyming words with one, two, even three syllables can help immensely.

For the following limerick, I started with:

There once was kid named ____________,
Who glued his hand to his face.

I was inspired by a kid in art class who I watched put glue on his hand and stick it to his face. Afterwards, he was surprised that his hand stuck there. Hilarious, and definitely limerick worthy.

To the rhyming dictionary! I typed in FACE, and got this:

Using this list, I scanned until I found a word that would fit the narrative, and rhyme properly with Face. For the record, I checked RhymeZone for Stuck and Luck as well.

There once was a kid named Trace,
Who glued his hand to his face.
Surprised that it stuck
He cursed his bad luck
And pulled till it popped out of place.

It might not seem like a good limerick is difficult to write, but each one takes me about an hour, and using the rhyming dictionary helps a lot.

Recently, I have been writing a new musical based on the story of The Princess Who Had Never Laughed. Once again, I am relying on my rhyming dictionary to craft witty lyrics with beautiful rhymes.

I wrote a song where an anatomy skeleton comes to life. He sings a repeating refrain, and I needed five different rhymes for Lose. You guess it! To the rhyming dictionary!

Each phrase starts with, “So take my advice,”

  • You’ve got nothing to lose
  • And stop singing the blues
  • Honey, I’ve paid my dues
  • Walk a mile in my shoes
  • What I’m sayin’ is true

All of these rhymes seem simple, but sometimes it can be advantageous to see all of the possible rhymes laid out. First to find rhymes that will work, and second to eliminate ones that absolutely won’t.

In addition to Blues, Dues, Shoes, True, I considered Muse, Cues and Choose. I knocked out Booze, Cruise and Screws pretty much right away.

For anyone who is using rhyme in their work, for poetry, picture books, song lyrics, or what ever else you need a good rhyme for, the Rhyming Dictionary might be for you. Give it a try, and let me know how it goes!

What is the best rhyme you’ve ever come up with, and did you use the rhyming dictionary to create it? Feel free to share with the Writers’ Rumpus.

8 comments

  1. Alison, this is fantastic! Love your limericks and I haven’t thought about coming up with end lines before the rest. I’m a big Rhyme Zone fan, and I’ve sometimes made long lists of rhyming words from it, that I can access offline when I’m not near WiFi.

    Like

  2. Rhyme zone is one of my best resources. LOVE this post and your lyrics! My daughter wrote a song when she was eight that had the same first line: So take my advice….the second was : “It pays to be nice.” Haha

    Like

  3. Alison, thank you for introducing us to RhymeZone! I’m not someone who would ever write a whole book in rhyme, but I’m writing a character right now who only talks in rhyme. Best of luck on your new musical!

    Like

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