What is the term for the relationship between two words when they have similar but not identical pronunciation? For example the words "cheat" and "sheet", "core" and "sour", "think" and "thank", "tough" and "cuff" sound very similar. I am not talking in the context of poetry but to clarify these words may be used in poetry.

PS: The only thing I care about is how two words sound in ear. I don't care if there is a category to which a pair of words mentioned above belongs or if such a category does not exist: "core" is similar to "sour" because a human can understand it and can understand "core" is far from "black" without providing any reason.

  • Important: If you mean the context of poetry (as noted from the tag list) then please state that in the body of the question as well. – Kris Apr 1 '15 at 7:45
  • Thanks everyone! I haven't down-voted any answer yet. I think some examples may clarify: "core" and "sour", "think" and "thank", "tough" and "cuff" – Hans Apr 1 '15 at 10:04
  • 'Cheat' and 'sheet' are rhymes, 'core' and 'sour' are half-rhymes, 'think' and 'thank' don't even make it that far. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 1 '15 at 16:44
  • Core and sour aren't even any kind of rhyme. The only thing they have in common is that they end in an /r/—they rhyme no more than was and Nepalese. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 1 '15 at 20:06
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because April Fools. – tchrist Apr 1 '15 at 21:36

It's called a slant rhyme, or oblique rhyme.

  • Slant or oblique (also known as "half") rhymes use similar, but not identical, sounding words, just as the original question describes. – bobro Apr 1 '15 at 7:50
  • Note that the question describes a slant rhyme, but gives as an example an ordinary rhyme. – bobro Apr 1 '15 at 7:56
  • My answers should include enough information to move the one asking the question to consult references, without resorting to the off-putting "look it up!" – bobro Apr 1 '15 at 7:59
  • No, your answers should be complete in themselves, including all information which might be useful. The aim of Stack Exchange is to be a compendium of answers, not a directory of pointers. – Andrew Leach Apr 1 '15 at 8:48
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    Call me ignorant but I don't understand the difference between a slant rhyme and a normal rhyme, which means I will have to Google these terms myself. You haven't even thought about providing a suitable link. If I am not an expert how will I know which source is reliable, and which are superficial or just plain misleading. – Mari-Lou A Apr 1 '15 at 11:24

I think you are referring to a common technique used in poetry to create a musical effect: rhyme

  • Correspondence of terminal sounds of words or of lines of verse.

  • A word that corresponds with another in terminal sound, as fold and cold.


  • I didn't downvote this correct answer, but I understand why it may have been downvoted (unless somebody is hopelessly off target): surely it would have been better to close-vote / downvote / flag the question. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 1 '15 at 9:12
  • @EdwinAshworth - I think it is a basic but acceptable question. – user66974 Apr 1 '15 at 9:16
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    Now I'll downvote. If OP is requesting the term 'rhyme', I'd say that's too basic a question for ELL. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 1 '15 at 9:22
  • @EdwinAshworth - we actually don't know what the term OP is looking for is. Anywhay you have downvoted something you have just defined as correct answer!! – user66974 Apr 1 '15 at 9:32
  • FumbleFingers has commented elsewhere '[W]e should seek to discourage people from providing trivial answers to trivial [I'd say elementary] questions. We all like to be helpful, but the place for that level of help is English Language Learners.... – Edwin Ashworth Apr 1 '15 at 16:35

Words that have only one phonological difference between them are called minimal pairs.


It should be a homophone or a heterograph.

Homophone: words with different meaning; same or different spelling; same pronunciation Heterograph: words with different meaning; different spelling; same pronunciation

Check: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homophone

  • "Same" pronunciation is not my intention. "Similar" is enough. – Hans Apr 1 '15 at 10:07

I think you are thinking, "homonym"

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    Please explain what a homonym is! – user66974 Apr 1 '15 at 7:24

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