‎Are there any rhyming words with which one answers to or comments the words like "where", "who", "how" or "so" and "well" or "like" (which fills a pause) if they're irritated by the fact that people, who are involved in a talk and supposed to be listening but actually are not doing so, still don't understand what a speaker means (in part because of the inattentive listening). Such answers are usually considered to be informal, though they don't contain any obscene words in their wording, so it's only acceptable to use them within the circle of your friends or family. Their function is to implicitly convey a certain extent of annoyance.

For example,

A: Why are you so sad? What has happened?

B (doesn't want to tell the truth and plays for time): Well...

A (is willing to listen to the story and interrupts that beating around the bush): In one's shell. Come on, out with it.

Here "well" rhymes with "shell", the phrase "In one's shell" itself doesn't have any meaning here, it just implies impatience and a slight irritation of the speaker.

In Russian, we would normally use in such a situation "Nu..."- "Baranki gnu." ("Well..."-"I'm breaking bagels.")


A:Today I failed all my tests at school. I never thought I would have so many problems.

B (who listened to A with half an ear): Where?

A: In Trafalgar Square. At school of course!

In Russian, we have for this case "Gde? - "V Karagande."( "Where?"-"In the town of Karaganda.")

  • 4
    I don't know if this is what you're looking for, but "Guess what?" "Chicken butt!" comes to mind: todayifoundout.com/index.php/2016/07/know-chicken-butt It's not really used when someone isn't listening, though, it's moreso used to be cheeky or express annoyance at being asked a rhetorical question.
    – garnerstan
    Apr 12, 2022 at 20:17
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    This is not something we typically do in English. In such situations we might repeat the question: "So, what happened?"; we might try to get the person's attention: "Hey! Did you hear what I just said?"; we might ask a rhetorical question: "Where? Where do you think?!"
    – Juhasz
    Apr 12, 2022 at 20:37
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    I've never heard of such a rhyming usage in English. My late father would sometimes reply to "Well..." with "What's the use of a well without a bucket?", but Google finds no references to that expression. Apr 12, 2022 at 20:40
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    A similar, but less specific feature of American (any maybe other dialects, too) English is shm-reduplicaiton, which was borrowed from Yiddish. We can express derision or skepticism towards something by saying a word, then repeating it but with the initial consonant replaced with "shm". As in "He's just a baby!", "Baby-shmaby, he's five years old!"
    – Juhasz
    Apr 12, 2022 at 20:41
  • 3
    @KateBunting My mother-in-law responds to "Well..." with "A deep subject." Apr 12, 2022 at 20:48


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