Here is an example from T. S. Eliot:

And even the Abstract Entities
Circumambulate her charm;
But our lot crawls between dry ribs
To keep our metaphysics warm.

I expect most people would say charm and warm do not rhyme, but their placement here suggests they are intended to be considered a rhyme on the basis of spelling.

What is this "rhyming" type called? I see it a lot. In some cases I wonder if it represents a shift in pronunciation. In others, such as this, I suspect not.

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    I believe such things are known as "eye rhymes".
    – Dan Bron
    Mar 11, 2015 at 23:39
  • They rhyme enough to satisfy most poets. A rhyme does not need to be exact. In fact, poetry does not require rhymes at all.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 12, 2015 at 0:04
  • In addition, words are often mispronounced in poetry to accommodate rhymes of this type. Mar 12, 2015 at 0:18
  • That's exactly what ther are @DanBron . Do you want to make it an answer? There's not a lot more to be said on the subject! :-)
    – Dan
    Mar 12, 2015 at 0:57
  • 1
    Related: Rhyming conventions of Early Modern English
    – ermanen
    Mar 12, 2015 at 1:44

2 Answers 2


They are called eye rhymes. Here is a reference from Brittanica:

Eye rhyme, in poetry, an imperfect rhyme in which two words are spelled similarly but pronounced differently (such as move and love, bough and though, come and home, and laughter and daughter). Some of these (such as flood and brood) are referred to as historical rhymes because at one time they probably had the same pronunciation.

  • 2
    How do you know it is the case of eye-rhyme? Mar 12, 2015 at 10:16
  • If the ending is "spelt the same way", as OP stated, it is an eye rhyme. From the fact that it LOOKS as if it ought to be pronounced the same. "The tough coughs as he ploughs [through] the dough." (Theodore Geisel) Mar 13, 2015 at 0:43
  • ... of course, that's not a poem, just an example of five different pronunciations of "ough" (six if you count "ought"). Mar 13, 2015 at 0:47

Basically, it depends on your approach, and which critical trends you have chosen (genetic criticism, historical criticism, formalism, psychoanalytic criticism etc.).

The most popular definition of the rhyme is "correspondence of sound between words or the endings of words, especially when these are used at the ends of lines of poetry." So, your example does not fit the definition, and it looks as it is not the rhyme from your or our point of view.

Rhyme is the repetition of similar sounds in two or more words. In poetry these words are usually at the end of a line and help create a certain rhythm. There is the perfect opportunities of looking for the rhyme online (for instance, http://www.rhymezone.com) So, the main aspect of the rhyme is related to phonetics.

However, here is the poetry written by the poet who has his own language background. Eliot was born in 1888, more than hundred years ago, and even changed his citizenship. If you would read Shakespeare's poetry, you will notice that the meaning of the words changed during several hundred years, probably it happened to the pronunciation as well (there are no records how Shakespeare pronounced different words). I think it is the rhyme because Eliot could pronounce words in different way then you or me pronounce them today. It could be his dialect or even idiolect ("The speech habits peculiar to a particular person").

Moreover, the essence of the poetry is to sound, not to stay in the written form. Thus, it is the rhyme, and these words ("charm" and "warm") should be read as they sound the similar way. Of course there are opinions claiming that the rhyme is not necessary part of the modern poetry, perhaps they are right, but the text of literature should be interpreted in the sense of author's way (historical approach), and, when Eliot wrote this piece of poetry, the rhyme was more important than today.

  • 1
    Unlike Shakespeare's time (where I believe people are still arguing about things like whether memory was an exact rhyme with fortify), we have dictionaries with pronunciation from the 19th century. And both English and American dictionaries from those times show that warm was pronounced with the vowel of corn, and not of charm. Mar 12, 2015 at 1:07
  • T.S.Eliot died in 1965, fer cryin' out loud! It's not like he was a contemporary of Shakespeare.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 12, 2015 at 1:07
  • 1
    Have you seen Eliot's dictionary of pronunciation or just the dictionary of pronunciation of that century? I heard some poets who pronounce the words in different way then presented in the officially published pronunciation dictionaries. Mar 12, 2015 at 4:42
  • 1
    @Darius: In that very poem, Eliot rhymes eyes and luxuries, skeleton and bone, and charm and warm. Do you think he really pronounced that many words differently than everyone else? Of course, he was able to write poems with nearly all perfect rhymes when he wanted to ... read his practical cats poems. Mar 12, 2015 at 21:03
  • @Darius: Tape recorders were invented before Eliot died. You can hear Eliot read the poem on Vimeo. He does not rhyme eyes and luxuries, skeleton and bone, or charm and warm (although the last two come pretty close to rhyming in his dialect). Apr 17, 2021 at 0:05

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