Liver rhyme

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Liver rhymes are an old German form of improvised joke poems that probably dates back to the 16th century . More precise circumstances about the place and time of origin are not known. The impromptu poems were used at table parties, for example as toasts . The liver rhymes got their unusual name from their initial words.


The oldest known tradition of liver rhymes is from the early 17th century and is in the Low German Rhytmi mensales from 1601, only shortly afterwards in High German the epatology hieroglyphica rhytmica (1605). Numerous collections and complimenting books with liver rhymes appeared by the middle of the 17th century . It was not until the 1720s that the fashion gradually ebbed, but it remained popular, especially among peasant groups, until the 19th century. These remains of the great liver rhyme fashion are u. a. contained in the work of Hoffmann von Fallersleben ( Weinbüchlein , 1829) and Theodor Fontanes ( Walks through the Mark Brandenburg , 1882).


The two lines assigned to the liver rhymes always begin with the line “ The liver comes (is) from a pike and not from ” followed by another animal name. The line always ends in an unstressed syllable. The second line is the improvised rhyme with a punch line. The input line is given by one person, another member of the group (or several) then provide the rhyming line on it. The meter and number of syllables must be identical on both lines.


A :: The liver comes from a pike and not from a pikeperch,
B :: I can't manage the bones alone, we eat together.

The poets of the following verses fulfilled less strict requirements. By modifying the first line more freely as in the first example or caesura rhyme in the second example:

The liver comes from a pike, it by no means comes from a shark,
I could do without the whole fish - never the wine.
The liver is from a pike, not a heron.
The state is doing pretty badly, the vultures are already circling.

The game with the shape finally doesn't stop at the pike:

The liver is from a cow, not a goat.
I prefer not to say anything about which bed I'm in.
The liver is from a pig, not a piglet.
I can't think of any rhyme for piglet, as long as I work on it.


  • H. Brandes: On the history of liver rhymes. In: Low German Yearbooks 11, 1888.
  • L. Petzoldt: Society poetry of the 18th and 19th centuries. In: Yearbook of the Austrian Volksliederwerk 36/37, 1987f.

See also: Schnaderhüpfel

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Wiktionary: Liver rhyme  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations