List of English words without rhymes

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The following is a list of English words without rhymes, called refractory rhymes—that is, a list of words in the English language that rhyme with no other English word. The word "rhyme" here is used in the strict sense, called a perfect rhyme, that the words are pronounced the same from the vowel of the main stressed syllable onwards. The list was compiled from the point of view of Received Pronunciation (with a few exceptions for General American), and may not work for other accents or dialects. Multiple-word rhymes (a phrase that rhymes with a word, known as a phrasal or mosaic rhyme), self-rhymes (adding a prefix to a word and counting it as a rhyme of itself), imperfect rhymes (such as purple with circle), and identical rhymes (words that are identical in their stressed syllables, such as bay and obey) are often not counted as true rhymes and have not been considered. Only the list of one-syllable words can hope to be anything near complete; for polysyllabic words, rhymes are the exception rather than the rule.

Definition of perfect rhyme[edit]

Following the strict definition of rhyme, a perfect rhyme demands the exact match of all sounds from the last stressed vowel to the end of the word. Therefore, words with the stress far from the end are more likely to have no perfect rhymes. For instance, a perfect rhyme for discomBOBulate would have to rhyme three syllables, -OBulate. There are many words that match most of the sounds from the stressed vowel onwards and so are near rhymes, called slant rhymes. Ovulate, copulate, and populate, for example, vary only slightly in one consonant from discombobulate, and thus provide very usable rhymes for most situations in which a rhyme for discombobulate is desired. However, no other English word has exactly these three final syllables with this stress pattern.[1] And since in most traditions the stressed syllable should not be identical—the consonant before the stressed vowel should be different—adding a prefix to a word, as be-elbow for elbow, does not create a perfect rhyme for it.

Words that rhyme in one accent or dialect may not rhyme in another. A commonplace example of this is the word of /ɒv/, which when stressed had no rhymes in British Received Pronunciation prior to the 19th century, but which rhymed with grave and mauve in some varieties of General American.[2] In the other direction, iron has no rhyme in General American, but many in RP. Words may also have more than one pronunciation, one with a rhyme, and one without.

Words with obscure perfect rhymes[edit]

This list includes rhymes of words that have been listed as rhymeless.

Non-rhyming English words[edit]

The majority of words with antepenultimate stress, such as ambulance,[18] citizen, dangerous and obvious, and with preantepenultimate stress, such as (un)necessary, logarithm, algorithm and sacrificing, have no rhyme.

Masculine rhymes[edit]

Refractory one-syllable rhymes are uncommon; there may be fewer than a hundred in English.[19] A great many end in a present or historical suffix -th, or are plural or participle forms. This list includes a few polysyllabic masculine rhymes such as obliged, which have one syllable in their rhyming part.[20]

  1. adzed /ˈ-ædzd/
  2. airt (rhymes with the Scots pronunciations of a number of other words, e.g. "pairt",[21] a Scots variant of "part")
  3. alb /-ælb/[22] (rhymes with some pronunciations of the proper noun "Kalb"[23] in the name of Johann de Kalb)
  4. amongst /-ʌŋst/ ("quincunxed" could qualify as a rhyme if its second syllable is given secondary stress and if secondary stress is considered sufficient for a perfect rhyme)
  5. angsts /ˈ-æŋksts/[24]
  6. bilge /ˈ-ɪl/
  7. boinged /ˈ-ɔɪŋd/
  8. borscht /ˈ-ɔːrʃt/ (could rhyme with a dialectal North American pronunciation of "washed" as "worshed/warshed"[25])
  9. borshch /- ɔrʃtʃ/ (pronunciation variant of the above)
  10. breadth, -s /ˈ-ɛdθ, -s/
  11. bronzed /ˈ-ɒnzd/
  12. bulb, -s, -ed /ˈ-ʌlb, -z, -d/[26]
  13. calced /ˈ-ælst/ (may rhyme with "valsed" in British English, according to the Oxford English Dictionary)
  14. combs (combinations) /ˈ-ɒmbz/
  15. coolth /ˈ-lθ/
  16. corpsed /ˈ-ɔːrpst/
  17. culm /ˈ-ʌlm/
  18. delft /ˈ-ɛlft/
  19. depth, -s /ˈ-ɛpθ, -s/
  20. dreamt (sometimes pronounced /ˈ-ɛmpt/, causing "dreamt" to rhyme with exempt, tempt, etc.)
  21. dumbth /ˈ-ʌmθ/
  22. eighth, -s /ˈ-tθ, -s/
  23. excerpts (verb) /ˈ-ɜːrpts/
  24. false /ˈ-ɔːls/[27]
  25. fifth, -ed, -s /ˈ-ɪfθ, -t, -s/
  26. filmed /ˈ-ɪlmd/[28]
  27. glimpsed /ˈ-ɪmpst/
  28. goonch /ˈ-ʊn/
  29. gouge(d) /ˈ-/
  30. (en)gulfed /ˈ-ʌlft/
  31. kilned /ˈ-ɪlnd/ (but not when pronounced as /ˈ-ɪld/)
  32. kirsch /ˈ-ɪərʃ/
  33. midsts /ˈ-ɪdsts/
  34. mulcts /ˈ-ʌlkts/[29]
  35. ninth, -s /ˈ-nθ, -s/
  36. obliged /ˈ-d/
  37. obvs /ˈ-ɒbvz/
  38. oomph /ˈ-mf/
  39. pierced /ˈ-ɪərst/
  40. prompts /ˈ-ɒmts/ or /ˈ-ɒmpts/
  41. scarce /ˈ-ɛərs/
  42. sculpts /ˈ-ʌlpts/
  43. sixth, -s /ˈ-ɪksθ, -s/
  44. sowthed, southed /ˈ-θt/[30]
  45. spoilt /ˈ-ɔɪlt/
  46. stilb /ˈ-ɪlb/
  47. swoln /ˈ-ln/
  48. traipsed /ˈ-pst/
  49. twelfth, -s /ˈ-ɛlfθ, -s/ The "f" in "twelfth" is commonly elided in casual speech, causing "twelfth" to rhyme with "health" and "wealth".
  50. unbeknownst /ˈ-nst/
  51. vuln, -ed, -s /ˈ-ʌln, -d, -z/
  52. warmth /ˈ-ɔːrmθ/
  53. whilst /ˈ-lst/
  54. with /ˈ-ɪð/ (the word is also pronounced with /ˈ-ɪθ/, in which case it has rhymes like "pith")
  55. wolf, -ed, -s /ˈ-ʊlf, -t, -s/
  56. wolve, -d, -s /ˈ-ʊlv, -d, -z/
  57. worlds /ˈ-ɜːrldz/
  58. wounds /ˈ-ndz/
  59. yoicks, joik, -s /ˈ-ɔɪks/

pork /ˈ-rk/ and forge /ˈ-r/ have no rhymes in conservative RP.[31] However, the distinction between horse and hoarse has been mostly lost in younger generations, and for them and many others pork which was an exception to the normal rule, now rhymes with fork and cork (/ˈ-ɔːrk/), while forge now rhymes with gorge. The OED no longer lists /pɔək/ as an alternative pronunciation in its third edition.

Nonce words ending in -ed ('provided with') may produce other potentially refractory masculine rhymes.[32] There are additional words which are only partially assimilated into English, such as Russian kovsh /ˈkɒvʃ/, which are refractory rhymes.

The contraction daren't /ˈ-ɛərnt/ has no known rhymes in any English dialect, however the legitimacy of contractions as a single word is disputed. Regardless of this, daren't lacks both perfect rhymes and phrasal rhymes.

Although not meant as a complete list, there are some additional refractory rhymes in GA. Some of these are due to RP being a non-rhotic accent, and having merged rhymes formerly distinguished by /r/.

  1. heighth, -s /ˈ-tθ, -s/[33]
  2. iron /ˈ-aɪərn/[34]
  3. karsts /ˈ-ɑːrsts/[35]

Feminine rhymes[edit]

For feminine rhymes, the final two syllables must match to count as a rhyme. Once the stress shifts to the penultimate syllable, rhymeless words are quite common, perhaps even the norm: there may be more rhymeless words than words with rhymes.[36] The following words are representative, but there are thousands of others.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ OED search for pronunciations ending in "*QbjUleIt".
  2. ^ In RP, stressed of currently has the rhymes sov, short for sovereign, and Sov, short for Soviet.
  3. ^ Lopped off in a way reminiscent of a Manx cat's taillessness: in Horse Nonsense by R. J. Yeatman.
  4. ^ Exceptions for perfect rhymes with angst and angsts being some dialectical or theatrical (such as in performances of Shakespeare's plays) pronunciations of verbs conjugated in the somewhat obsolete second person plural form associated with the pronoun thou, which end with -est or -st. For example, thankest and wrongest, as in "thou thankest me too much" or "wrongst thou not me!", depending on how the words thankest /θæŋkst/ and wrongst /rɑːŋkst/ are pronounced, with the latter dependent on being subject to vowel-forward version of the cot–caught merger.
  5. ^ In General American, this also rhymes with calmed.
  6. ^ It is also a homonym of cercal.
  7. ^ Also attested in poetry is onety-oneth /ˈwʌntiˈwʌnθ/
  8. ^ It also forms an identity rhyme with the African-American surname Blige, most notably borne by R&B singer Mary J. Blige.
  9. ^ With the American pronunciation /ˈpəs/ with a long o, opus rhymes with other words, such as Canopus, lagopous, monopus (one-eyed), and slang mopus. If the /ᵻ/ in coppice is considered interchangeable with a schwa, then this word also rhymes with the British pronunciation.
  10. ^ Held, Carl. "Breaking the Orange Rhyme Barrier". Games. Issue 167 (Vol. 25, No. 1). pp. 10–13. February 2001.
  11. ^ The plural has a common rhyme in the surname Heintz.
  12. ^ When it is pronounced /pm/, it rhymes with "home", "comb", "Rome", etc.
  13. ^ Held, Carl. "Orange, Silver, now Purple (More Lexical Lunacy)". Games. Issue 207 (Vol. 29, No. 1). pp. 4–9, 16. February 2005.
  14. ^ Rhythmic has no rhymes apart from logarithmic and algorithmic, which are often excluded for having identical syllables.
  15. ^ Held, Carl. "From Orange to Silver (More Lexical Lunacy)". Games. Issue 200 (Vol. 28, No. 4). pp. 4–9, 16. May 2004.
  16. ^ Nodal, John H.; Milner, George (1875). A Glossary of the Lancashire Dialect, Volume 14. Manchester Literary Club. p. 233. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  17. ^ The plural women rhymes with the more common persimmon and the surname of Jamie McCrimmon in some American pronunciations.
  18. ^ Online first-aid video teaches baby CPR with nursery rhymes, SBS News 2016. The inability of the characters to rhyme "ambulance" is made into a plot point which they solve by mispronouncing it.
  19. ^ In the August 1980 Kickshaws,[1] Howard Bergerson listed 55, but rhymes have been found for some of them.[2]
    Apart from those listed under 'obscure rhymes' above, these are,
    beards – weirds; filched – obs. milched, dial. pilched, slang zilched; fluxed – bruxed, betuxed (dressed in a tux), dial. muxed; jinxed – sphinxed, obs. nonce minxed; lairds – cairds (both Scottish); leashed – schottisched, niched (one pronunciation), Sc. creeshed; mouthed – southed (alt. pronunciation in, but not OED); mulched – gulched; puss (cat, face) – wuss, schuss; scalds – tech. faulds, obs. balds, Sc. caulds & spauld; tenth/s – nth/s; tufts – Crufts, yufts (Russian leather).
  20. ^ Though Cole reported a phrasal rhyme in "Elijah knew, oblige a Jew".
  21. ^ "Pairt | Definition of Pairt by Merriam-Webster". 2018-07-19. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  22. ^ "Alb definition and meaning". Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  23. ^ "Kalb - definition of Kalb by The Free Dictionary". Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  24. ^ The alternative American pronunciation /ˈɑːŋkst/ has no rhymes even in the singular.
  25. ^ "LINGUIST List Home Page". Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  26. ^ Bulb can be assumed to rhyme with culb, an obsolete word (and hapax legomenon) for a glass distillation vessel attested without pronunciation from 1683.
  27. ^ In GA, this rhymes with Hals, a neighborhood in Passau, Germany.
  28. ^ The plural films rhymes with Wilms, a German surname, and a kidney tumor.
  29. ^ The infinitive mulct rhymes with sulked, bulked, etc.
  30. ^ As /ˈsaʊθt/. The verbs sowthed (as in sowthed a tune) and southed (pointed south) are identical and therefore not considered rhymes to each other. Phrases like foul-mouthed /ˈfaʊlmaʊθt/, though close, have the wrong stress to be perfect rhymes. Sowths, souths rhyme with mouth's. (Southed but not sowthed is also pronounced /ˈsaʊðd/, which rhymes with mouthed.)
  31. ^ Loring, Andrew (1920). The Rhymers' Lexicon (2nd ed.). London: George Routledge & Sons, Ltd. pp. xxxiii–xxxiv.
  32. ^ Some promising words are befezzed (wearing a fez) and bemusicked, though the first rhymes with Yezd.
  33. ^ Colloquial GA heighth is /ˈhaɪtθ/. In RP, highth /ˈhaɪθ/ rhymes with dryth (= drought), rithe, etc., but is obsolete.
  34. ^ Two syllables, /ˈ-.ərn/, for many speakers. In RP, this rhymes with lion, cyan, Zion, etc.
  35. ^ In RP, this rhymes with fasts.
  36. ^ Liberman, Mark (8 December 2009). "Rhymes". Language Log. Retrieved 8 December 2009.
  37. ^ This has a derived rhyme in hangry, and also rhymes with the first part of Shangri-la.
  38. ^ In the song "I Like the Way" by Darren Hayes, this is rhymed with the nonce word "temptee", i.e. one who is tempted, in the line "But temptation tempts the temptee".
  39. ^ If apostrophic rhymes are accepted, this could be said to rhyme with "avengin'".
  40. ^ British pronunciation /ˈfɔɪ/ or /ˈfɔɪj/ only. The US pronunciation /ˈfɔɪər/ has many rhymes including coyer and lawyer. In GA, the former pronunciation rhymes with the surname of singer Alison Moyet.
  41. ^ It rhymes with the neologism druggage, which is a portmanteau derived from drug and luggage to refer to drugs illegally smuggled into airports, e.g. this article.
  42. ^ For some (GA) speakers, polka rhymes with mocha, coca, and almond roca
  43. ^ Though of course something rhymes with phrases such as this dumb thing.

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