Is there a term for the sort of rhyme or near-rhyme that subsists between such words as repose and propose? For these seem to me less truly to rhyme than, say, vision and decision. In the latter pair, the matching of sound begins with the vowel of the last stressed syllable, but in the former, the preceding consonants match as well, leading to a kind of over-rhyme.

OED notes:

Rhyme, strictly speaking, is regarded as extending to the last stressed vowel and any sounds following it.

There is also an intermediate sort of case, such as grate and demonstrate, where the r sounds immediately preceding the last stressed vowel of each do match but they are parts of different consonant clusters.

I had thought the term was degenerate rhyme, but a Google search for that turned up only Isaac Watts’s line about Milton as a “noble hater of degenerate rhyme.” (Apparently Watts’s acquaintance with Milton’s poetry did not include “L’Allegro,” “Il Penseroso,” or any of the sonnets.)

I did check Does a word rhyme with itself? on this board and it was no real help.


1 Answer 1


You can use the French phrase rime riche, or you can translate and call it rich rhyme.

Note that this is not quite what the French mean when they say rime riche.

  • Thanks much. OED indeed confirms for both rime riche and rich rhyme the definition as "rhyme [or rhyming] in which the rhyming elements include matching consonants before the stressed vowel sounds (for example taken and mistaken, peer and pier)." I confess I was hoping for something connoting some disapproval, but then I suppose rich has highly ambivalent connotations nowadays. Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 19:51
  • A rich rhyme doesn't count as a perfect rhyme, so there is some implicit disapproval in this terminology. The esthetics of French poetry are different from the esthetics of English poetry, which explains why the term doesn't carry any negative connotations in French. Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 19:54
  • I thought rime riche homophonic like eight, ate or inner ear, in her rear — and is therefore a type of self-rhyme. It seems that @Brian is asking for how to describe the greater affinity between the first two in the rhyme-sets reduce, deduce, papoose and crass, brass, sass than in the third. A gifted poet will often introduce extra elements in common between rhyme words, perhaps more commonly in feminine rhyme than in masculine, but I don’t know its name.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 20:21
  • @tchrist: homophonic rhymes are a special case of rimes riches. But the OED says that the term rich rhyme was used in 1656 for find and refind, and the The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics says that rich rhyme means the rhyme encompasses the final stressed syllable and the preceding consonant. The words reduce and deduce are perfect rhymes, while reduce and induce are only rich rhymes. Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 20:52
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    @tchrist: googling, I find various definitions for perfect rhyme and rich rhyme; poets are not scientists, and they seem to think the same word doesn't always have to mean the same thing. Commented Feb 1, 2015 at 14:25

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