Here is a line from the song "Popular" in the musical Wicked. I am trying to explain what we call the anticlimax of the last three lines, where a rhyme is expected but not delivered.

When I see depressing creatures/ With unprepossessing features/ I remind them on their own behalf/ To think of/ Celebrated heads of state or/ Specially great communicators/ Did they have brains or knowledge?/ Don't make me laugh!He,he!/ They were popular!

Is there a term for the rhyme scheme where we (arguably) expect knowledge to be rhymed with "college"?

Another example:

Roses are red/Violets are blue/Sugar is sweet/And so am I

The comedic effect of that poem is in the anticlimax of the final line. Is there a term for that anticlimax created from an unmade rhyme?

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    Keep your feet off the grass Shine your shoes, wipe your...face youtube.com/watch?v=k6qcBQoK7uI&t=0m12s
    – mplungjan
    Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 15:23
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    "I am just a poor boy. / Though my story's seldom told, / I have squandered my resistance / For a pocketful of mumbles" — Paul Simon Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 15:30
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    Roses are red / Violets are blue / Some poems rhyme / But this one doesn't.
    – livresque
    Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 17:11
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    @mplungjan I think the Shrek example is a little different. You're supposed to expect a specific word, not just the rhyme. The rhyme is a tool to misdirect the audience to precisely that word. Maybe it's a matter of degrees, but I see it as a different end product.
    – kojiro
    Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 20:52
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    Right. So a climax that is not even close to what was expected.
    – mplungjan
    Commented Feb 5, 2013 at 5:19

1 Answer 1


It's a subverted rhyme.

I hesitate to cite TV Tropes directly but the term has also appeared in ELU.

  • HA! My example is the first in the link's Animated section - I should have searched with it shine your shoes off the grass wipe your face shrek rhyme found your link
    – mplungjan
    Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 15:35
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    +1 for correct term, +1 for link to alternate discussion in ELU, -1 for ruining the rest of my day with a link to TVTropes. Net +1, but still.... grr. Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 16:06

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