I just learned about slant rhyming where you use a distorted not quite rhyme. Emily Dickinson is noted or these. (I personally don't like these, as they distract. Much like trying to make a pun on Polish the nationality and polish to make shiny just because they are spelled the same way.)

But on the flip side, here are a few that go the other way. Forcing the rhyme to work by changing the word.

Ogden Nash:

Parsley is garsley

Bennett Cerf and the extended abbreviation.

There was a young lady from Del. 
Who was most undoubtedly wel. 
That to dress for a masque 
Wasn't much of a tasque, 
But she cried, 'What on earth will my fel.?'

Or you can just mangle the spelling to enforce the rhyme.

In New Orleans there dwelled a young Creole
Who when asked if her hair was all reole
Replied with a shrug
'Just give it a tug
And decide by the way that I squeole.'

What is this called?

Edit: A commenter asked if another answer fit. I said "The question there is very similar to mine, although the example is hard for me to parse as it's structure is odd. The answer is mostly slant rhyme lacking, the cleverness that the examples above have."

In the extended abbreviations example, Cerf does a fun wordplay. The abbreviations make the limerick scan correctly, but if you don't expand them the meaning doesn't make sense. And the other two expansions don't work as real words, but spoken aloud make perfect sense.

'Masque' is rhymed with 'tasque'. This is visual word play. Spoken it could just as well be mask and task. By using 'tasque', Cerf is adding a visual word play.

In the next one, the author uses exact rhyming spelling, but to make the rhyme subtly shifts the pronunciation. 'Reole' wouldn't be pronounced the same as 'real' but more like 'ree owl' where 'owl' is like 'bowl'. Similarly with 'squeole'.

Where slant rhyming comes across as being lazy and sloppy, this sort of thing is a humourous and clever form of wordplay.

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    Poetic license : license or liberty taken by a poet, prose writer, or other artist in deviating from rule, conventional form, logic, or fact, in order to produce a desired effect.
    – user 66974
    Commented Mar 25, 2021 at 22:47
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    Does this answer your question? Is there a term when the final spelling of a word is changed for rhyming purposes?
    – cigien
    Commented Mar 26, 2021 at 1:00
  • Not really. The question there is very similar to mine, although the example is hard for me to parse as it's structure is odd. The answer is mostly slant rhyme lacking, the cleverness that the examples above have. Commented Mar 27, 2021 at 4:52
  • Despite what the dictionaries say, a lot of people pronounce Creole to rhyme with reel (which may or may not rhyme with real, depending on your dialect). See Youglish. Commented Apr 4, 2021 at 11:39
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    For an example of a poem where the pronunciation really is mangled, here's Laura Elizabeth Richards Eletelephony, which begins "Once there was an elephant, Who tried to use the telephant— No! No! I mean an elephone Who tried to use the telephone—" (I'm sure there are also lots of limericks that work like this, but this was the first example that came to mind.) Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 12:28

2 Answers 2


One term that occasionally appears in print in reference to this type of humorously strained rhyming is Nashism, named after the comic poet Ogden Nash, who is mentioned in the posted question and who is famous for using such rhymes to a fault and far beyond. Here is an example of the term (and the style it refers to), from the TOC page of Life magazine (July 12, 1954):

Many rhymesters who try it wind up with a crash
When doggerelizing like Bard Ogden Nash
But this week we give as a model—and as relief from crises engendered by Communism and fascism—
A genuine Nashism
There is a chance heavensent to call all LIFE readers' attention, albeit arbitrarili and strangeli
To a number of other aspects of this week's issue, beginning with the cool elf (no geitcha-girl, really a back-to-naitcha girl) known to her friends as Anna Maria Pierangeli
Of Los Angeli.
Or speaking of elves themselves, but much elfier,
Are the netsuke inspired by a non-Japanese tycoon from Philadelphier [...]
There was sport, writes Bob Wallace, and endlessly screwy,
In his sidesplitting account of the first auto tour of St. Louis.
(If you're one of those confirmed pure-us who calls it St. Lou-us
Sue us.)
As in all weeks there is news that is grim but this week there seems much that is merrier.
Like the goat than can do the ballet up in St. Mary's, Onterrier.
So the mood of our rhyme is not prompted by dreams caused by hashish.
It's just Ogden Nashish.

Another reference (and example) appears in Douglas Parker & Dana Giola, Ogden Nash: The Life and Work of America's Laureate of Light (2005) (combined snippets):

He had initially been hired at Universal Pictures by Carl Laemmle ( whose conspicuous nepotism later became the subject of a widely quoted Nashism: "Carl Laemmle has a very large faemmle").

Other poets who have been associated with this technique are Lewis Carroll, A.A. Milne, and Dr. Seuss. Hence we have this instance from Ellery Queen's 20th Anniversary Annual (1965):

To quote from the newest Ellery Queen paperback anthology (number 9), here are 20 "stories of intensity and some of immensity, and all of (to coin a Lewis-Carrollism, A. A. Milne-ism, and Ogden-Nashism) suspensity."

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    Good answer. For example, The Wasp, by Ogden Nash: The wasp and all his numerous family // I look upon as a major calamity. // He throws open his nest with prodigality, // But I distrust his waspitality. Commented Apr 17, 2021 at 17:46
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    @PeterShor: Nash also produced such classic couplets as "The ostrich roams the great Sahara. / Its mouth is wide, its neck is narra." and "He who attempts to tease the cobra / Is soon a sadder he, and sobra."
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Apr 17, 2021 at 18:44
  • I'm not sure that the Ellerty Queen quote was talking about the same specific rhyme-straining wordplay that the OP is asking about. Lewis Carroll wrote a lot of humorous verse, but I can't recall any examples of such rhyme-straining in any of it. Could you refer to an example?
    – Rosie F
    Commented Apr 17, 2021 at 20:27
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    @Rosie: Lewis Carroll certainly doesn't seem to have done it as often as Nash, but from Phantasmagoria, by Lewis Carroll: “It’s not in Nursery Rhymes? And yet // I almost think it is— // ‘Three little Ghosteses’ were set // ‘On posteses,’ you know, and ate // Their ‘buttered toasteses.’ Commented Apr 17, 2021 at 21:17
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    Also, from Carroll's "The Two Brothers" (1853): "Oh much is the noise that is made among boys / When playfully pelting a pig, / But a far greater pother was made by his brother / When flung from the top of the brigg [bridge]".
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Apr 17, 2021 at 23:22

I would use the term POETIC COINAGE.

Coinage - A newly invented word or phrase.

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    What is the problem with the nonexistent term semantic leap? One could come up with such terms ad infinitum, but that's not our job here. :) –
    – user405662
    Commented Mar 26, 2021 at 13:01

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