nonce words

List of English words without rhymes

The following is a list of English words without rhymes, or refractory rhymes, i.e. a list of words in the English language which rhyme with no other English words in the strict sense that they are pronounced in the same way from the vowel sound of the main stressed syllable onwards. They don't count as rhymes if they are identical in those syllables—for instance, bay and obey don't count as rhymes. The list was compiled from the point of view of Received Pronunciation and may not always work in other dialects. Multiple-word rhymes have not generally been considered.

Definition of perfect rhyme

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, and thus provide very usable rhymes for most situations in which a rhyme for discombobulate is desired. However, no English word has exactly these three final syllables with this stress pattern.

Because rhymes reflect pronunciation, words that rhyme in some English dialects may not rhyme in others. A commonplace example of this is the word "of", which had no rhymes in British Received Pronunciation prior to the 19th century, but rhymed with "love" in General American. In the other direction, iron has no rhyme in General American, but many in RP.

Words with obscure perfect rhymes

Non-rhyming English words

One-syllable rhymes

Refractory one-syllable rhymes are uncommon; there may be less than a hundred in English. A great many end in a present or historical suffix -th. Not all are one-syllable words, such as oblige.

  1. angst, -s
  2. breadth, -s
  3. breathed (participle)
  4. cusp, -s, -ed
  5. depth, -s
  6. eighth, -s, -ed
  7. fifth, -s, -ed
  8. film, -ed
  9. fugue, -s, -ed
  10. glimpse
  11. gulf, -s, -ed
  12. heighth, -s
  13. karst
  14. kiln, -s, -ed
  15. mulcts
  16. ninth, -s, -ed
  17. oblige, -ed
  18. pork, -s, -ed
  19. sowth, south ?
  20. sixth, -s, -ed
  21. twelfth, -s, -ed
  22. wolf, -s, -ed
  23. wolve, -s, -d

Nonce-words ending in -ed ('provided with') may produce other rhymeless words, such as be-fezzed (wearing a fez) and aitched (full of H's). However, these are not always certain (rached, a horse with a white streak down its face?).

Two-syllable rhymes

Once the stress shifts to the penultimate syllable, rhymeless words are rather common.

Three-syllable rhymes

A complete list of such words would be unmanageably long.

Four-syllable rhymes

Perhaps the majority of words with preantepenultimate stress, such as necessary, logarithm, and algorithm, have no rhyme.

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