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In a broader sense, rhyme is a combination of words with a similar sound. In a narrower sense, rhyme is the consonance of a stressed vowel and the sounds that follow it. Depending on the tradition of poetry, this sound can be at the beginning of the word ( initial sound ), in the middle or at the end. Example: run - buy; run - buy; Current - Buyer. In linguistically oriented poetry theory , rhymes are viewed as phonological over-structuring .

The Middle High German word rîm is borrowed from French : The noun rime for rhyme represents a regression of the verb rimer for “in rows, rhyme” (Franconian and Old High German rīm “row”). The English spelling rhyme is based on the fact that at the time of the introduction of Modern English a connection to the Greek rhythmos was wrongly assumed.


The term “rhyme” referred to the entire rhymed verse until the 17th century . Martin Opitz (1597–1639), Baroque poet and author of the first German-language poetics, justified today's definition: “A rhyme is a match between the sound of syllables and words at the end of two or more verses / which we according to the kind we vns written for have put together. ”The original meaning has been preserved in expressions such as“ nursery rhyme ”and“ refrain ”.

In China , the rhyme was already used between the 10th and 7th centuries BC. Used, which is attested by the Book of Songs , the oldest collection of poems and the largest from pre-Christian times.

The pagan and Christian poetry of late antiquity in the Germanic language area is characterized by the allotted rhyme . The end rhyme was probably introduced via the Christian-Latin hymn poetry. The Old Testament , however, knows just as little about rhyme as the poets of Greek and Roman antiquity, who rejected the harmony of the sounds as unsightly.

The Koran , which originated in the 7th century, is written in rhyming prose . This literary form, which is carried by end rhymes at the end of a sentence or syntactic cuts without a meter, was very common on the Arabian Peninsula at the time.

The sacred and secular Latin poetry of the European Middle Ages is either accentuating and rhyming, or it appears rhyming and quantitating; That is, the ancient meters are used, especially the hexameter . An exception is the Leonine verse , which combined quantities with rhyme.

The first German (Old High German) poetry to be written in end rhymes is the Gospel Book of Otfrids von Weißenburg (around 870). Since the 12th century, rhyme has been triumphant in the poetry of all European vernacular languages, and it retains its dominant position until it weakens sharply in the second half of the 20th century. Modern poetry often dispenses with the classic poetic means of rhyme and meter and uses free verse , which was developed in France in the 19th century as vers libre . By completely abandoning the rules of metrics, the “free verse” approaches prose .

Attempts by German poets in the 18th century to replace rhyme with blank verse and ancient meters ( Klopstock , Voss , Goethe , Schiller , Hölderlin ) remain an episode, albeit a very significant one.

The rhyme is still very much alive in the 21st century within rap poetry and spoken word , where it is used as a stylistic device in a wide variety of ways and by no means limited to the end rhyme.


One function of the rhyme in the poem is to open up a structure of the rhymes in addition to the metrical structure of the syllables , and thus to relate these two levels of perception to a higher, more complex level. So rhyme is not only used for structuring, but the structure of rhyme forms its own aesthetic dimension of the lyric.

Poetry has a musical dimension. The identical sound is comparable to a phonetic idiom that enables the return to or starting from a reference point (see cadence ). It flatters the ear and, according to the aesthetic principle of unity in diversity, is particularly convincing when the rhyming words are far apart in their meaning and connotations . As an echo of the thought, rhyming words often have a special weight for the meaning of poetry. Karl Kraus was of the opinion that a rhyme should be valued higher the more resistance it had to overcome, be it a monosyllabic word rhyming with a polysyllabic word or the two rhyming words come from different linguistic spheres.

Rhyming is also easier to remember, which is why proverbs , weather rules , mnemonics , advertising slogans and the like often have the form of rhyme. So rhyming messages also has a pragmatic use, e.g. B. with the traveling singers of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance for the transmission of messages.

The end rhyme marks the end of the line and relates the individual lines to one another. This function is particularly important in French poems, in which the verse is determined only by the number of syllables (e.g. twelve or thirteen syllables in the Alexandrian ).

Rhyme forms

Rhymes can be described according to their number of syllables, their position in the verse, their phonological and morphological-lexical structure and their rhyme scheme. Regular rhyme schemes indicate fixed lyrical stanza forms in connection with certain verse forms . Bertolt Brecht's poem Memory of Marie A. may serve as an example:

And above us in the beautiful summer sky
Was a cloud that I saw for a long
It was very white and enormous above.
And when I looked up, it was never there .
- Bertolt Brecht in memory of Marie A.

The pair of rhymes “sah / da”, for example, is monosyllabic (number of syllables), end-rhyming (position in the verse), pure (phonological) and rhymes only every other line (rhyme scheme). Morphologically and lexically it has no special features. Formally, Brecht's poem is thus close to the folk song strophe.

Rhymes after the syllable number

Male or dull, monosyllabic

The line ends on a stressed syllable.

A donkey with a pricked ear stood in front of a house gate . - Wilhelm Busch

The masculine rhyme is also known as masculine .

Feminine or sounding, two-syllable

Both lines end in rhyming syllables, the first is accented, the second unstressed.

Which one because their object was ,
is that the donkey fret should .
- Wilhelm Busch

The feminine rhyme is also known as feminine .

Sliding or rich, three-syllable

Both lines rhyme with three syllables, the first of which is stressed.

Beautifully splendid ,
great and mighty
- Maria, Madonna of Freyberg in Des Knaben Wunderhorn

For rhyme forms that involve more than the last stressed syllable, see extended rhyme .

The feature of the number of syllables in rhyme is also called the rhyme gender . Jump male and female rhymes regularly from, so it is called an Reimalternanz .

Rhymes according to the position in the verse

End rhyme

In the ending or starting rhyme , the rhyming words are at the end of the verse. This is the most common form of rhyme in German and many other languages.

Sounds in the wind a lullaby song ,
sun warm down looks ,
his ears lowers the grain ,
red berry swells on thorns ,
heavy of blessing is the corridor -
Young woman, what are you thinking only ?
- Theodor Storm : July

Internal rhyme

In the case of the inner rhyme, the rhyme words are wholly or partly in the interior. Depending on the position of the rhyming words, several forms are distinguished:

  • Inner rhyme or in-rhyme: rhyming words at the end of the line and in the interior of the same verse.
  • Middle rhyme: rhyming words inside consecutive verses. A special form of the middle rhyme is the caesura rhyme , in which the rhyming words come before a caesura.
  • Middle rhyme : a word at the end of the verse rhymes with a word inside the following or preceding verse.
  • Rhyme : Rhyming words follow one another immediately. Special forms of the rhyme are:
    • Echoreim : the repetition of the rhyming syllables reproduces an echo.
    • Skipping or skipping rhyme: rhyming words are separated by a forwarding.

Opening rhyme

At the start rhyme or input rhyme the first words rhyme two verses.

Lines that rhyme at the end
are therefore called a poem. It doesn't take long to
file .
Do you know another shape? | Michael Schönen

Pause rhyme

In the pause rhyme, the pair of rhymes is at the beginning and the end of the rhyming verse. The verse with the rhyming word at the beginning therefore appears rhyming and gives the impression of a pause. Examples can be found mainly in Minne- and Meistersang .

I sang wol vierzec jar or me
von minnen and as iemen sol .
- Walther von der Vogelweide

Rhymes according to phonological structure

Pure rhyme

The Song of the Bell (1800)

In a pure rhyme, the audible sequence of sounds from the last stressed vowel is exactly the same: H erz - Schm erz ; R ose - D ose

Impure rhyme

In the case of impure rhyme , the audible sequence of the rhyme syllables only roughly matches, deviations occur in tone coloration and accentuation.

Like a picture from heaven's heights ,
cheeky , ashamed cheeks
, he sees the maiden standing before him
- Friedrich Schiller : The Song of the Bell

Specifically, the forms of impure rhyme include:

  • historical rhyme : was pure at the time of its creation, but is no longer due to different speaking habits (prove - love, slay - shey)
  • uneven rhyme : although the rhyming syllables are consistent, the emphasis is different (time - eternity)
  • Assonance : only the vowels, but not the consonants match (dare - laben)
  • Consonance : only the consonants, not the vowels, match; the vowel quantity is retained (dare - waves)
  • End syllable rhyme: rhymes between unstressed or sub-tone end syllables

Extended rhyme

The extended rhyme is a fuzzy generic term for forms of rhyme in which the correspondence of the rhyming words goes beyond the part relevant for the end rhyme from the last stressed syllable. The extended rhyme forms include:

  • Double rhyme : rhyme from the penultimate and the last stressed syllable (W inde w go - L inde g go )
  • Multiple rhyme: rhyme with two or more stressed syllables, i.e. generalization of the double rhyme.
  • vowel half-rhyme : rhyme with the last stressed and the following, unstressed vowel, so a weakening compared to the double rhyme. (l maybe w ar - s maybe b ar )
  • Touching rhyme : Also rhymes with the initial sound of the rhyme syllable, i.e. the consonants in front of the vowel of the accented rhyme syllable also sound the same. Special cases of touching rhyme:
  • Schüttelreim : Double rhyme with two initial sounds or groups of sounds that change places

Rhymes according to morphological-lexical peculiarities

Split rhyme

The split rhyme is a polysyllabic rhyme in which at least one of the rhyme members extends to two or more, mostly short words.

There is nothing good
except: you do it .
- Erich Kastner

Broken rhyme

The broken rhyme is a rhyme in which there is a morphological enjambement (line change in the middle of the word) immediately after the rhyme syllable , which often leads to strange stress shifts:

Everyone knows what such a May -
beetle for a bird is .
- Wilhelm Busch Max and Moritz

Hans Sachs, who was a shoe -
maker and poet there to .
- Hans Sachs

Marriage before the so- mali -
brown Night bares the stars
melt, which I as a mo rali -
infected's law in the throat.
- Peter Rühmkorf The Zeitvertu song

Eye rhyme

In the eye rhyme there is a correspondence only in terms of the typeface, the phonetic correspondence is incomplete or missing.

Greif Aldi in the snake
from the car the Orange .
But oh, what an embarrassment :
those already saw better days .
Also the yellow cordon bleu :
not brand new anymore .
This Einkaufsvormit day
Taugt more than Gedichte- Gag .
- Lino Wirag

Grammatical rhyme

The grammatical rhyme connects words of the same stem, for example faith - believe, or inflected forms of the same word regardless of consonance.

It's a shame ,
they so dishonor .

Twin rhyme

A hybrid of identical, polysyllabic and split rhyme is the twin rhyme (according to Günter Nehm ): It rhymes words with the same letter material, which are separated at a different point.

Evil thieves stole goods,
Evil the stolen goods .
- Günter Nehm

Puzzling rhyme

The puzzle rhyme (from Latin vexare , plague , see puzzle and picture puzzle ) steers towards an obvious rhyming word (often with a frivolous or compromising background) before it assigns another. In song form one speaks of a song of puzzlement .

We set off with great strides ,
and Erwin grabs Heidi by the shoulder from behind .
- from the refrain of the mood
Polonäse Blankenese (interpreter: Gottlieb Wendehals )

The expected rhyming word can also simply be omitted:

Forgive me, samma again good,
i woass now that ma ned fluacha duat.
Forgive me, he jetz huift me nothing ,
kimm do away the snow, Himmiherrgott. - - -
- from the song Verzeih mir (interpreter: Biermösl Blosn )

It can also be replaced with an entire phrase:

Because now Tutti Frutti is on RTL ,
the women have almost nothing under it .
I'm sitting in my chair, my pulse is fast,
and then I get a bag of potato chips from the kitchen .
- From the song So. 22:40 RTL [do it yourself] (interpreter: Norbert und die Feiglinge )


The alliteration is a strict principle of syllableing of the old Germanic languages, which makes use of alliteration , which requires the same initials of stressed stem syllables at certain positions in the verse. Above all in Old and Middle English , Old Norse , Old Saxon and Old High German , poems have been handed down in stick rhymes.

In the literatures of modern times the alliteration is only used historically ( Richard Wagner ). Alliteration, on the other hand, has always been a linguistic adornment that has been used frequently until today, although it can only be considered rhyme in the broadest sense if it is not used with metrical regularity.

Rhyming sequences

The rhyme sequence, that is, the sequence and type of correspondence in a stanza or a poem, is described in verse by a so-called rhyme scheme in abstract form. Each verse corresponds to a (lower) letter, the same letters are used for rhyming verses.

Verses that do not rhyme are called orphans and are included in the rhyme scheme[x] written down.

Pair rhyme

Rhyme for two consecutive verses. Two verses connected by pair rhymes are accordingly called a pair of rhymes .

Scheme: [aabb ccdd ...]

[a]   I go in the jungle for myself ...
[a]   How nice that I'm in the jungle:
[b]   You can hike here as long as you like
[b]   One primeval tree stands next to the other.
- Heinz Erhardt

Cross rhyme, also alternating rhyme

Scheme: [abab cdcd ...]

[a]   His gaze is from the passing of the bars
[b]   got so tired that he can no longer hold anything.
[a]   It feels like there are a thousand sticks to him
[b]   and behind a thousand bars no world.
- Rainer Maria Rilke

Hugging rhyme, block rhyme

Also called comprehensive rhyme, encompassing rhyme, or embedded rhyme .

Scheme: [abba cddc ...]

[a]   A pure rhyme is very popular,
[b]   but to have the thought pure
[b]   the noblest of all gifts,
[a]   that's worth all the rhymes to me.
- Goethe

That is, one pair of rhymes surrounds another, figuratively "embraces" it.

Entangled rhyme

The rhyme order is with the entangled rhyme: [abc abc ...]. One can imagine that the pairs of rhymes were alternately shifted into one another, that is, "entangled".

[a]   The day is scarce in sweet delights
[b]   It pains me the vain splendor of its light
[c]   And consume me the glow of his sun.
[a]   So hide your eyes from the shine of earthly suns!
[b]   Wrap yourself in night, it will satisfy your desires
[c]   And heals the pain like Lethe's cool floods
- Karoline von Günderrode

Pile rhyme

In the pile rhyme, the rhyme is repeated more than twice in a row.

A special form of the heap rhyme is the three rhyme with three successive rhymes, which marks the end of the stanza in the tunnel stanza (scheme:[ababccc]). Otherwise the three-rhyme is rare.

If the rhyme is repeated four times or more and connects all the verses of a stanza or a section of a poem, one speaks of one rhyme, series rhyme or tirade rhyme.

[a]   I am a messenger and nothing more
[a]   What they give me I bring here
[a]   Scholarly and political fairy tale;
[a]   From Ali Bei and his army,
[a]   From the Tartar Khan who was like a bear
[a]   The people eats at the black sea
[a]   (He's not a pleasant gentleman)
[a]   From Persia, where with his spear
[a]   Prince Heraclius is very furious.
[a]   From the red gold, from the star army,
[a]   Of innocence, virtue, even more
[a]   As gold and stars are -…
- Matthias Claudius from the announcement of the Wandsbeck messenger

Tail rhyme, also intermediate rhyme

Scheme: [aa b cc b ...]

[a]   Yes i know where i am from
[a]   Unsaturated like the flame
[b]   I glow and consume myself.
[c]   Light becomes everything I grasp
[c]   Coal everything I leave
[b]   I am certainly a flame
- Friedrich Nietzsche in Ecce homo

Chain rhyme, also rhyme of terzines

In the chain rhyme, the individual rhyme groups are linked to one another in that a word from the previous rhyme group is included as a rhyming word in the following rhyme group.

Scheme: [aba bcb cdc ded ...]

[a]   Found halfway through human life
[b]   I hide in a dark forest
[a]   Because I turned away from the right path.

[b]   How difficult is it to say of this forest
[c]   How wild, rough, dense it was, full of fear and need;
[b]   The very thought of 'renews my fear.

[c]   Even death is only a little bitterer;
[d]   etc.
- Dante in the Divine Comedy


Regular repetition of verses within strophic poems and songs at the appropriate position. A distinction is made according to position:

  • Ending rhyme
  • Domestic rhyme
  • Beginning or opposite rhyme


Körner (also: Körnerreime ) are lines of verse, the rhyme of which has its correspondence not in its own stanza, but only in the following one (s) and which embraces the individual stanzas and their statements with a rhyme sound. Grains play a role in Meistersang .

Quantitative research

The Quantitative literature has dealt with the rhyme. The vocalism in the rhyme of Goethe's ballad Erlkönig is the subject of Altmann & Altmann (2008, page 71 f.); extensive quantitative studies can be found in Some Properties of Rhyme .


  • Bernhard Asmuth : rhyme. In: Gert Ueding (Hrsg.): Historical dictionary of rhetoric. Volume 7: Pos - Rhet. Niemeyer, Tübingen 2005, ISBN 3-484-68107-1 , Sp. 1115-1144.
  • Ulrich Ernst, Peter-Erich Neuser (Hrsg.): The genesis of the European end rhyme poetry. (= Paths of Research 444). Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1977, ISBN 3-534-06717-7 .
  • Gerhard Grümmer : Game forms of poetry. 2nd Edition. Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig 1988, ISBN 3-323-00204-0 .
  • Mihaiela Lupea, Maria Rukk, Ioan-Iovitz Popescu, Gabriel Altmann : Some Properties of Rhyme . RAM-Verlag, Lüdenscheid 2017. ISBN 978-3-942303-62-0 . (Quantitative studies on several properties of rhyme.)
  • Willy Steputat : Rhyming dictionary. Newly edited by Angelika Fabig, updated by Christiane Wirth. Philipp Reclam jun., Stuttgart 2015, ISBN 978-3-15-011012-6 .
  • Rüdiger Zymner, Harald Fricke : Practice in literary studies. Parodying is about studying. (= UTB 1616 literary studies ). 5th, revised and expanded edition. Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn 2007, ISBN 978-3-8252-1616-0 .

Web links

Commons : Rhymes  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: rhyme  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Martin Opitz: Book of the German poetry. 7th chapter.
  2. Apart from a few passages, cf. z. B. the Hebrew text of Isaiah 5,7 OT , which is adequately imitated in the German translation ( Isa 5,7  ZB ). Alliteration , acrostic and above all parallelism membrorum are also encountered .
  3. The theory of rhyme resistance by Karl Kraus.
  4. The age tone. In: Walther von der Vogelweide: The songs of Walther von der Vogelweide. Vol. 1: The religious and the political songs. 3. Edition. Edited by Friedrich Maurer. Niemeyer, Tübingen 1967, p. 14.
  5. Vivien Altmann, Gabriel Altmann : Instructions for quantitative text analysis. Methods and Applications . RAM-Verlag, Lüdenscheid 2008, ISBN 978-3-9802659-5-9 , page 71f.
  6. Mihaiela Lupea, Maria Rukk, Ioan-Iovitz Popescu, Gabriel Altmann : Some Properties of Rhyme . RAM-Verlag, Lüdenscheid 2017, ISBN 978-3-942303-62-0 .