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, 2011 at 1:51
  • 1
    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, 2014 at 16:45
  • 1
    It doesn't work. Nobody knows why. But there are theories. Apr 13, 2015 at 22:07
  • 1
    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, 2015 at 7:14

4 Answers 4


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, 2014 at 7:23
  • 2
    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, 2015 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. May 12, 2015 at 23:03
  • 1
    "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, 2017 at 21:42
  • 1
    To elaborate on my earlier comment, let's look at one of Mr Lear's limericks. There was an Old Man with a beard, [A] Who said, "It is just as I feared!— [A] Two Owls and a Hen, [B] Four Larks and a Wren, [B] Have all built their nests in my beard. [???] If you consider identical words to rhyme, the last line is straightforwardly A. But if not, you have a problem in that "beard" rhymes with "feared" but not "beard", which are both A. So how do you write it?
    – Stewart
    May 10, 2022 at 13:02

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

  • 3
    Ah, so that's why that song always annoys me :)
    – calum_b
    Apr 27, 2016 at 13:39
  • 1
    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, 2016 at 14:57
  • 1
    This is called an "Identical Rhyme". It's used by famous poets as well.
    – rlwheeler
    Dec 16, 2020 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, 2015 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, 2015 at 22:55
  • 4
    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. May 13, 2015 at 1:36
  • @Peter Shor I recommend a trip to Blarney Castle. ASAP. Sep 30, 2015 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, 2015 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, 2015 at 23:07
  • I believe a word rhyming with itself is a form of "identical rhyme."
    – bubbleking
    May 10, 2017 at 22:05

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