In other words, does rhyming work reflexively?

Do "potato" and "potato" rhyme?

Is the following (admittedly cumbersome) limerick valid?

An issue with rhymes confused me much
So I used the internet as a crutch
I went to a site
The Stack Exchange site
And used it as my crutch

  • 5
    Edward Lear, who popularized limericks, did frequently rhyme a word with itself, but usually in the first and last line of the poem. – aedia λ Oct 20 '11 at 1:51
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    I wanted to know if a rhyme/Could repeat the last word as a rhyme/So I made up a rhyme/That ended in 'rhyme'/And queried the state of the rhyme. – Sven Yargs Jul 29 '14 at 16:45
  • 1
    It doesn't work. Nobody knows why. But there are theories. – John Lawler Apr 13 '15 at 22:07
  • Didn't want to hijack the question, but how about something a little bit more like Edward Lear? "I found rhymes confused me so much / That I searched far and wide for a crutch. / I found I could cite / The Stack Exchange site / Which I thought very good as a crutch." Feel free to use that if you like. – Andrew Leach Apr 14 '15 at 7:14

By the formal definition of 'rhyme' (matching the last few sounds), yes, a word rhymes with it self.

But to actually use it in a poem is jarring in its lack of imagination. So it violates the rules of artfulness.

  • Agreed. In the case of the OP's limerick, it also violates the conventional limerick format. – Erik Kowal Jul 29 '14 at 7:23
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    Do you have a source for this formal definition of rhyme? I can imagine defining "rhyme" in such a way as to exclude identical words. – herisson May 12 '15 at 22:41
  • @sumelic In fact most definitions I find from a quick search are along the lines of "a word that has the same sound as another." which would imply different rather than the same to me. – Martin Smith May 12 '15 at 23:03
  • "Rules of artfulness?" That's a sad idea. Yes, words, on a technical level, rhyme with themselves, and this can be done intentionally in aesthetic contexts without it being bad or violating any "rules." See the much better answer posted by @Related. – bubbleking May 10 '17 at 21:42

Yes a word can rhyme with itself and work effectively/artistically. Case in point, John Lennon's Imagine:

You may say I'm a dreamer / But I'm not the only one / I hope someday you'll join us / And the world will live as one

  • 2
    Ah, so that's why that song always annoys me :) – calum_b Apr 27 '16 at 13:39
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    This is a matter of opinion. Rhythmically speaking, The last three words of the refrain are the weakest part of the song, not just because of the repeated word but also because John always stretched "world" over two beats and jammed "live-as-one" together on a single beat. Rhythmically it makes more sense to give "world", "live", and "one" a beat each, in the same rhythm as the second line, "not", "only", and "one". I say this as someone who loves this song. – MetaEd Apr 27 '16 at 14:57
  • This is called an "Identical Rhyme". It's used by famous poets as well. – rlwheeler Dec 16 '20 at 0:45

it can but when doing a limerick has to rhyme with a word other than itself. Plus, limericks have to go in a 8-9, 8-9, 5-6, 5-6, 8-9 syllable format. Yours is a 9, 10, 5, 5, 6

  • I guess your format could be right that is just how I learned to do it. – Joe Father May 12 '15 at 22:41
  • Just for the record, my poem from last year (see the comments under the OP's question) totally satisfies the syllable requirements that Joe Father identifies here. I admit that the meter isn't perfect—but it rhymes. – Sven Yargs May 12 '15 at 22:55
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    Counting syllables works for haiku, But for limericks it just won't do. Look at this poor sample As a bad example. Limericks of iambs are untrue. – Peter Shor May 13 '15 at 1:36
  • @Peter Shor I recommend a trip to Blarney Castle. ASAP. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 30 '15 at 18:50

No, a word doesn't rhyme with itself. Both are the same word, so therefore it's just repetitive. You only think it rhymes because you hear the exact same sound.

  • 3
    Hearing the same sound is one (reasonable) definition of a rhyme. – Andrew Leach Apr 13 '15 at 21:08
  • 1
    @AndrewLeach - No, because if a word has too much of the same sound it doesn't rhyme, to the "normal" ear. – Hot Licks Apr 13 '15 at 23:07
  • I believe a word rhyming with itself is a form of "identical rhyme." – bubbleking May 10 '17 at 22:05

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