No rhyme, no reason
Words that ought to rhyme


In English, it is never enough to know the spelling of a word; the pronunciation must also be specified. While there are a few helpful rules of spelling, we learn pronunciation of new words only by trial and error. We guess a pronunciation based on experience, and then are laughed at when we make a serious error. And sometimes, we laugh at our friends when we think they're wrong. I still remember a friend from fourth grade who insisted on going to the "the-AY-ter". (It didn't help that his first name was "Sean", a name I had never heard before, and which I suspected he had invented; - and that's before he told me how to spell it!)

A minor result of this curiosity of English is that many words rhyme that "shouldn't", and many that "should" don't. Collected here are a few sets of words that look like they ought to rhyme, but which vary in interesting ways.

In order to be "fair", I have mainly looked at words that are spelled identically, except for a change in a consonantal group, usually at the beginning of the word. This means that I am less interested in cases where the words don't align, because one has more syllables. So, while I include the pair ache and attache, I regard this as a weaker example. I have allowed cases where the change is not in the first syllable, as long as it occurs in a stressed syllable that would normally trigger a rhyme, such as the pair cajoled and caroled, although this example also illustrates the perplexing ways in which the accent can vary in two words of such similar spelling.

Notice the large number of oddball words involving a "w" just before the vowel. This suggests that the letter "w" really does have a semi-vowel status, which could explain why, for instance, bash doesn't rhyme with wash: it "really" has a different vowel sound w(ua)sh.

abalonealone
abateagate
aboveapprove
acheattachecache
acred/nacredsacred
adwad
addlewaddle
adiosradios
adjournmourn
adobeprobe
aftwaft
againattain
agosago
agueplaguePrague
aidplaidsaid
alasgalas
alfhalf
alibisibis
allshall
allegeprotegerenege
allegronegro
alliancedalliance
allotballot
allowsallowwallow
allowerwallflower
allytallyWally
almonersalmoner
alongamong
amberchamber
amenstamen
AmishfamishHamish
amusesanuses
anwan
analcanal
anarchystarchy
andwand
angerbangerdanger
anisearise
anoncanon
antwant
antedcantedwanted
anyzany
Apachesattaches
apparatusasparagus
apprenticeentice
arbiterbiterliter
archmonarch
arebare
argonjargon
ArkansasKansas
armwarm
arousedrendezvoused
arrantwarrant
asbrasgaswas
ascentnascent
ashwash
aspwasp
assailwassail
assessbassesmasses
assistbassist
asterwaster
asternpastern
atswatwhat
athletemachete
attestfattest
auntgaunt
avalancheComanche
avengescavenge
aversaver
avidDavid
avineravine
awardawkward
axcoax
axestaxes
axistaxis
Babellabel
backwardbackyard
bafflewaffle
baggedragged
balconybalony
balletmalletwallet
bakednaked
bangedranged
banishDanish
banquetbouquetsuet
barnwarn
barrelquarrel
barrenwarren
baselineVaseline
baserlaser
basesgaseslases
batchwatch
bathswath
bathedpathed
batherfathergather
battlewattle
bayssays
beaddead
beadyready
beakbreak
bearhear
beardheard
beastbreast
beatgreatsweat
beatingcreating
becamesesame
beenseen
beerfreer
beganMeganvegan
begetberet
biasedliased
biercrierskier
binderhinder
bingedringed
biotrio
bipedgriped
bisonprison
bisquerisque
bistablelistable
bitratetitrate
bloodfoodgood
blownbrown
bluestguest
boatCroat
bodyCody; grody
boingdoinggoing
Boisenoise
boldersolder
bombcombtomb
bombercombersombertomber
bonegoneone
bookkook
bootfoot
bossesposses
bothclothdoth
bothermother
boughcoughhiccoughthoughthroughtough
boughtdrought
bowerlower
bowlhowl
bravadotornado
breatherleather
brewedrewedsewed
Britishwhitish
broadroad
bruiseguiseLouise
bruitfruitquit
buddingpudding
Buickquick
bulldull
bulletgullet
bullionmullion
bullysully
bunionunion
burgersurger
buryjury
busflus
busesfuses
bushgush
busspuss
butput
butchhutch
butterflyutterly
cabswab
cabaretcaret
cachetsachet
cachetedmacheted
cafesafe
cajoledcaroled
campswamp
canapesjackanapes
canarygranary
cantaloupetroupe
cantonwanton
capswap
carwar
carawayfaraway
cardward
carpwarp
carryquarrystarry
cartwart
cashiertrashier
castepaste
caughtdraught
ceaseease
cedesuede
cederseder
ceilveil
ceilingveiling
cementclement
censureensure
certainpertain
chaiseraise
changesGanges
chapellapel
chassesclasses
cheatedcreated
cheesegeese
chemisedemiseDenisepremise
chemomemo
chicmictic
ChinaTina
chinorhino
chisisskisthis
chivalryrivalry
Chloedoeshoe
choirnoir
chooseloose
chosedoseJoselose
Christtwist
citricnitric
clarificationscarification
clarifyscarify
cleanoceanSean
clicheficheniche
clichesriches
climateintimateprimate
climblimb
climbedimbedlimbed
climbertimber
closerhoserloser
clothingfrothingnothing
cockeyedjockeyed
coedshoedtoed
colicfolic
colonsolon
colordolor
comasThomas
comehome
comelyhomely
comicgnomic
communiqueunique
comparedinfrared
compromisepromise
concaveMojave
coneyhoney
confiderconsider
conspiracypiracy
copierdopier
copyropy
corkwork
cornealcornmeal
couchtouch
coucheddouchedtouched
coupsoup
courierFourier
covelovemove
covenprovenwoven
covermoverover
coverageoverage
coveralloverall
cowlow
cowboylowboy
cowardtoward
credoredo
crescentdescent
crevicedeviceVenice
crisesrises
crookedlooked
crossgross
croupiersoupier
customermisnomer
daisThais
daisesraises
daughterlaughter
deafleaf
deathheath
debaclemanacle
debutrebut
debutedrefuted
decadedegrade
decalfecal
decedentprecedent
deceitforfeit
dedicatedelicate
defacepreface
defangedderanged
defeatedpermeated
defiancedeviance
defineddestined
degasDegasVegas
deistheist
deliverderiver
demonlemon
demurfemur
denialmenial
Denispenis
depositionreposition
depotdespotrepot
despitemesquiterespite
determeter
detourdevour
devilevil
deviledreviled
DianeLiane
dilatePilate
discountviscount
distressmistress
ditherlither
divasaliva
divanIvan
divelive
diverriver
divestjivest
dogo
doctoratesEuphratesSocrates
doesgoesshoes
dogsledogled
dollroll
dominopalomino
donkeymonkey
donorhonor
dosageOsage
doseloserose
dossierglossier
doublerouble
douchetouche
douchestouches
dozenfrozen
drawerrawer
driestpriest
dualityquality
duetsuet
dulyJuly
dumberlumber
earlynearly
earthhearth
easygreasy
egretregret
eightheight
eitherwither
emigrateemirate
emitespritexit
enabletenable
enatesenate
enclaveenslave
encourageentourage
enchantpenchant
endometrialretrial
engineentwine
ermineundermine
estategestaterestate
ethertether
eunuchsuch
evenseven
everfever
Everestseverest
ewersewer
excitedexited
existsexist
eyedkeyedpreyed
agileawhilefacilegracile
faithsaith
farishgarish
fastedtasted
fastenhasten
fastingtasting
fetalmetal
fetchedwretched
fetemachetemete
feudFreud
fewsew
feveredreveredsevered
fiendfriend
filletskillet
fine luresinecure
fingergingersinger
finisminis
finishswinish
flangerange
fleasideas
flourishfourish
flowerlower
fontfront
forbidmorbid
formworm
fosterposter
foulghoulsoul
fourhour
friedskied
frigateligate
fromtomwhom
frontagemontage
fussypussy
futonputon
galleyedwalleyed
gallopwallop
gamelangameplan
gamestersemester
garagegarbage
garblewarble
gardenwarden
genusmenus
gildmild
glacierracier
gladiatorradiator
golfwolf
gorillatortilla
gougerouge
grievesieve
griotriot
growlylowly
gulleypulley
Hadesshades
halonsalontalon
haltshalt
hastynasty
havepave
headdressreaddress
heirweir
heretherewere
heresyhereby
heretichermetic
heronPeron
herringreferring
hewnsewn
hingedringed
hinterinter
hollerroller
hollywholly
hombresombre
homeyhoney
honkmonk
horseworse
hostagepostage
howlow
humblynumbly
hungerdungerplunger
iciclesPericles
icilySicily
iconiron
idolaterisolater
imbedlimbed
implysimply
indictinfict
injuredinured
innatepinnate
intellintel
intercedesMercedes
internalinterval
Internetinterpret
intopinto
intuitInuit
iratepirate
islandmisland
isledmisled
intellintel
ivyprivy
Jesusrhesus
Judystudy
kerfedunderfed
keythey
kilosilo
kindwind
kindlyspindly
knavishlavish
kosherposher
lagerpager
lattematte
latentpatent
laterwater
legatenegate
leopardleotard
lilywily
limoprimo
lintpint
livengiven
logicyogic
longedsponged
lorrysorryworry
lostpost
loungeryounger
lousymousy
lynchsynch
macramemadame
magnatestagnate
malingerSalinger
mangytangy
maniaShaniaTania
margarinenectarine
massagepassage
massepasse
matrimonypatrimony
maturenaturestature
medialredial
menseslenses
mincedzinced
minestronepinecone
minidressministress
messagedressage
modelyodel
modestmolest
moldiersoldier
mouserouse
mouserstrousers
naifwaif
naivewaive
nationration
navelravel
NaziSwazi
nearbynearly
Nepalsepal
neutersReuters
NevilleSeville
Nigertiger
nitonpiton
nitrovitro
northworth
noticenovice
novelshovel
numberplumber
ogressprogress
OmanRomanwoman
omenwomen
omitvomit
oncesconce
onionOrion
ontopronto
opaqueplaque
oustProust
outageoutrage
ovalremoval
pajamaPanama
pandaWanda
panderwander
pantwant
patioratio
peaspancreas
pettypretty
phenomvenom
pierspliersskiers
playerprayer
Plinytiny
pollenswollen
ponderwonder
potatovibrato
preciousspecious
precludeprelude
predatesedate
prelaterelate
premedthemed
presencepretence
prestigevestige
processprofess
prongedsponged
properroper
punishrunish
purineurineursine
pusherusher
quadrupedquadrupled
qualifiesqualities
quanttruant
quartStuart
quintuplescruple
quitesuite
reawardseaward
rebuszebus
recantsecant
recentrelent
reciperewipe
recordreword
rednessredress
regaleresale
regardrewardsteward
regimeretime
registerresister
regluesegue
relishrewish/delish
remindrescind
rhowho
ringedtinged
ryeye
salvevalve
sauerkrauttaut
scarfwharf
scholarsolar
seayea
semenYemen
SemiteYosemite
sickledsickbed
SimonTimon
simonytestimony
snuggestsuggest
solveswolves
sopranovolcano
southyouth
squalidvalid
steinvein
stingystringy
sunlessunless
swordword
tacoWaco
taginetagline
tenonxenon
thouyou
Tigrisverdigris
trickedwicked
tunableunable
unableusable
unaryunwary
unfitunit
vehiclevesicle
workableworktable


Last modified on 12 October 2020.