In the schoolyard rhyme "Miss Susie" the taboo word is spoken aloud, so I'm not sure that it qualifies as a mind rhyme. Likewise, in the case of a subverted rhyme the expected word isn't spoken.

I will go to heaven
And he will go to Hell-
O, operator

Is there a literary or poetic term for this usage of enjambment?

  • 7
    Your question is a hard one ~ I could not answer it ~ It vexed my mind and made me ~ Want to take a... ~ Sheet of paper ~ And write it with a pen ~ So as I walk around all day ~ I'll think on it again!
    – J.R.
    Aug 30, 2012 at 17:01
  • 7
    I'm sorry that the question / Has made you stop a tick / I'd consult your father / Who has a giant dic- / tionary, / He reads it twice a day / And if that doesn't help you / Petition StackExchange. :)
    – Zairja
    Aug 30, 2012 at 17:29
  • 3
    I bet you’d enjoy my “Ballad of Shameless Enjambment”, given in chat.
    – tchrist
    Aug 30, 2012 at 17:38
  • 1
    I can't help thinking of Benny Hill. Aug 31, 2012 at 15:18
  • 2
    @coleopterist Hahahaha. No. I hope I don't get ~ Toads are really slimy. I saw them at the port. I touched one that was stinky and got genital ~ warning on the label; touring on a bus; soaring on an airplane; I'll leave you in the dust. ^^ Sep 3, 2012 at 12:19

2 Answers 2


I would call this 'interrupted-word rhyme'. I think that enjambment is not fitting because 'enjambment' doesn't seem to otherwise transition to a new word:

'This is the | forest pri | meval. The | murmuring | pines and the | hemlocks' - Longfellow, "Evangeline"

Are you familiar with interruption in written dialogues? It is typically signaled by an em dash, which indicates the unusual transition.

Admittedly, the term 'interrupted-word rhyme' is a manufactured term. There may be an existing term of which I am unaware. Because it is likely that a term does not exist, we have to consider the foremost rule of circumlocution: try to pick a term that people will understand, simply. With that in mind, I recommend that you use this term and also try to one-up me. My second-favorite alternative is 'Miss-Susie rhyme'/'Miss-Susie-type rhyme'. It's a bit ambiguous because 'rhyme' could be taken to mean 'poem', and it is also a reference that people may be unfamiliar with. It would be more clear to people who recognized the term.

Example of interruption:

Romantic man: 'What a beautiful--'
Romantic woman: 'day....'
  • 1
    Interesting point. In a sense the enjambed word is already the new one, but the listener isn't aware of it until the next line. And since all this is taking place (usually) through speech, the "next line" could start anywhere depending on how one transcribes it. FWIW, I've seen these rhymes transcribed with the taboo word starting entirely on the next line, so perhaps I was thinking about this all wrong. Maybe it's better to describe it as a verbal misdirection or something along the lines of your suggestion? I'm going to do a bit more research, else this may have to suffice.
    – Zairja
    Sep 2, 2012 at 12:47
  • @Zairja I agree that verbal misdirection is compatible. I'll keep looking, also. I've asked several English teachers, already. If neither of us can find anything, we should make a submission to Webster. :) Sep 3, 2012 at 12:21
  • I'm tentatively accepting this as the answer, although my search continues. I will update my question with any updates.
    – Zairja
    Sep 5, 2012 at 2:46

First of all, 'enjambment' is a technical word used when describing poetry.

In poetry, enjambment or enjambement is the breaking of a syntactic unit (a phrase, clause, or sentence) by the end of a line or between two verses.


An example of a Mind Rhyme is given in Wikipedia:


One very hot day in the summer last year

A young man was seen swimming round Brighton Pier;

He dived underneath it and swam to a rock

And amused all the ladies by shaking his

Fist at a copper who stood on the shore, The very same copper who copped him before. For the policeman to order him out was a farce, For the cheeky young man simply showed him his

Graceful manoeuvres and wonderful pace...[3]

The missing word in the first verse is of course - cock - and in the second verse - arse.

The missing word, which is a rude word is not spoken out loud. So it is a way of saying something rude without saying something rude.

Subverted Rhyme


Para: We are villains who like to rhyme... Dox: In fact, we do it all the time. Para: You may think it's rather crass... Dox: But you can stick your cards right up your nose. Para: ...You were supposed to say "ass," brother. I thought we rehearsed this.

Again, the rude word is 'ass' or 'arse'.

trope [trəʊp] n 1. (Literature / Rhetoric) Rhetoric a word or expression used in a figurative sense 2. (Music, other) an interpolation of words or music into the plainsong settings of the Roman Catholic liturgy

To answer the question

Is "Miss Susie" a mind rhyme?

Yes and No

I am not particularly familiar with Miss Susie. I think part of a idea is that people are already thinking of different versions when they hear the first version.

Is there a literary or poetic term for this usage of enjambment?

If I was a Moderator I might consider doing something with this question. Because it is not really a question at all, but more of an excuse for the person asking the question to show off their knowledge.

Enjambment is a literary or poetic term. What more do you want?

A mind rhyme based on enjambment.

It is a mistake to imagine there is a corresponding single word to describe everything that exists in the known universe.

  • 2
    My question was not to boast. It was concise and put in simple terms. It's precisely because I lack knowledge in this domain that I asked it. Poetry analysis is filled with all kinds of specific terms (e.g. catalexis, acatalexis, hypercataletic, anacrusis, acephaly all describe the syllabic characteristics of a line). There's no reason for a curious mind outside poetic circles to think there couldn't be subsets of enjambment just as there are subsets of metre until an expert points out otherwise. There won't always be a single, pithy word but one won't know until one asks, right?
    – Zairja
    Sep 1, 2012 at 13:28
  • 4
    -1: This doesn't really address the question at all. You've mainly just pasted material from the references given in the question, criticized the question (which belongs in a comment), and expressed skepticism that it has a proper answer, but without giving any particular evidence. Sep 1, 2012 at 14:47
  • Generally contributors are advised against getting into arguments. Sep 2, 2012 at 0:27
  • @RobinMichael: It is common practice on SE, when downvoting, to post an explanatory comment, which is what I did. The correct place for further discussion of the issue is meta.english.stackexchange.com. Sep 2, 2012 at 22:38

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.