Mind rhyme is a type of substitution rhyme. It is similar to rhyming slang, in that an intended word remains unsaid, and is “heard” only in the listener’s mind.


For instance, in this pair of examples from popular culture:

      Roses are red and ready for plucking
      She’s sixteen and ready for high school.

(in the context of cheerleading:)

      Raa Raa Ree! Kick 'em in the knee!
      Raa Raa Rass! Kick 'em in the other knee!

The texts initiate a possible rhyme which is completed by the reader or listener. Unlike rhyming slang, where the discipline of lexicography is possible (e.g., “dogs” or “dog’s meat” has traditionally signified “feet”, in a multitude of contexts[1]), in mind rhyme there is no association between the intended and substituted words at all. The intended' word is suggested to the reader by the context alone; the substition could be any word -- or even no word at all, as in these 18th-century rhymes by Mary Wortley Montagu:

      Perhaps you have no better luck in
      The knack of rhyming than in --.

      She answer'd short, I'm glad you'll write,
      You'll furnish paper when I sh---e.[2]

As the examples show, often mind rhyme is often used to circumvent a taboo -- if anything objectionable is communicated, it occurs with the complicity of the listener. It adds a phonemic dimension to uses of double entendre. This taboo avoidance game with the listener has been described as "teasing rhyme". Such teasing rhymes have been popular since the 17th century.

Alan Bold described the 20th century anonymous bawdy poem about the "young man of Brighton Pier" as "perhaps the finest of the teasing-rhyme variety of bawdy poem".[3] An extract will illustrate the technique:

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...[4]

Although fairly rare in canonical literature, examples of mind rhyme can be found in the work of William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Marianne Moore and others.[5]

In Lewis Carroll's 'Tis the Voice of the Lobster it is generally assumed that the last words of the interrupted poem could be supplied by the reader as "— eating the Owl".

See alsoEdit



  1. Ayto John (2002) The Oxford Dictionary of Rhyming Slang, Oxford, Oxford UP, p. 36. ISBN 0-19-280122-8)
  2. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu"The Dean’s Provocation for Writing the Dressing-Room," Representative Poetry Online, University of Toronto,, Web, Dec. 9, 2011.
  3. The Bawdy Beautiful, ed. Alan Bold, 1979 ISBN 0722117329
  4. Making Love, ed. Alan Bold, 1978 ISBN0330255851
  5. Holdefer Charles (2009) ’Shaving Cream’ and Other Mind Rhymes, The Antioch Review, Vol. 67, No. 1, Winter pp. 158-63.

External linksEdit

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. (view article). (view authors).
This page uses content from Wikinfo . The original article was at Wikinfo:Mind rhyme.
The list of authors can be seen in the (view authors). page history. The text of this Wikinfo article is available under the GNU Free Documentation License and the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.