Rhyme scheme

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In verse theory, a rhyme scheme is a specific form of metrical notation and describes the rhyme sequence in an abstract form, i.e. the sequence and type of correspondence in a stanza or a poem. Each verse corresponds to a (lower) letter, the same letters are used for rhyming verses.

Example: the rhyme scheme

[abab acac bbcc]

describes a poem form made up of three four-line stanzas with three rhymes that appear four times each [a] (Verses 1.1, 1.3, 2.1 and 2.3), [b] (1.2, 1.4, 3.1 and 3.2) and [c] (Verses 2.2, 2.4, 3.3 and 3.4).

Non-rhyming verses are called orphans . In the rhyme scheme, those verses that do not rhyme with any other line often appear with[x] or [w] written down.

Special rhyme forms are indicated by the use of capital letters, especially a refrain or refrain:

[abbA accA ...]

would be a sequence of rhymes for four-line stanzas, with the fourth verse repeated identically in each stanza and rhyming with the first verse.

Occasionally, in addition to the pure rhyme sequence, the number of syllables and the rhyme gender are also noted. Example:

7wa 6mb 6mb 7wa

would be the description of a four-line stanza with embracing rhyme , where the 1st and 4th verses are seven-syllables with feminine rhyme and the 2nd and 3rd verse six-syllables with masculine rhyme .


  • Dieter Burdorf, Christoph Fasbender, Burkhard Moennighoff (Hrsg.): Metzler Lexicon literature. Terms and definitions. 3. Edition. Metzler, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3-476-01612-6 , p. 640.
  • Gero von Wilpert : Subject dictionary of literature. 8th edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2013, ISBN 978-3-520-84601-3 , p. 675.

Web links

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