Do leave and believe rhyme?

I contend that they don’t. Assuming that leave doesn’t rhyme with leave (in other words, words don’t rhyme with themselves).

Liver and Deliver would be another example.

Anyway and way is yet another example of what I am saying.

I see a lot of people using them in poems and songs as rhymes though.

It’s called “identity rhyme” when you rhyme a word with itself or a word that has the same consonant preceding the stressed syllable (which is rhymed.)

By the strict definition, it is not a true rhyme. But there’s nothing wrong with using them in songs and poems. A lot of rhymes in poetry (especially contemporary) would not pass the traditional definition of rhyme. (The vowel sounds are the same, but the inital consonant is different.)

Uhhhhh… My head hurts.

Are you saying two words that are spelled differently but have the same trailing pronunciation don’t rhyme? And a word can’t rhyme with itself?

So that only leaves words with the same number of syllables as well as sounds are the only words allowed to rhyme?

Of course they rhyme. Unless you’re talking about sight rhymes (main/again) words rhyme when they have the same sound. It doesn’t matter how they’re spelled or if one word is part of another.

Now it may not be considered a good rhyme to use the same word or parts of it, but it’s still a rhyme. And if your original example (leave/believe) doesn’t rhyme, than nothing does, since you have two different words that have no connection other that sound and which do have the same sound.

Look at the definition and explain why it doesn’t fit your examples:

Here’s Steven Sondheim on this particular issue:

And he’s right. They don’t rhyme in the strictest sense. Read up on prosody.

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Unfortunately, this examples in this citation are pure identities, but I would say the example given by the OP applies, and Sondheim seems to think so to.

At any rate, in my poetry composition classes, we were taught that purists did not consider these rhymes. I’m not saying you can’t use them as rhymes, I would and I have no problem with it. Hell, “master” and “foster” are acceptable rhymes (though slant) in my book.

Remember, I am speaking from classic prosody, but from a purist’s standpoint, the stressed syllables and everything after the stress have to rhyme, as well as the initial consonant (or consonant cluster) before the stressed syllable must be different.
But, no, the words don’t have to have the same number of syllables. For example “divorce” and “force” rhyme. Stressed syllables: “VORCE” and “FORCE”. Different lead-in consonant sound, same vowel/consonant sound combination afterwards.
This is a masculine rhyme. A feminine rhyme has additional syllables after the stress. Sometimes it’s also known as a trochaic rhyme as in: “JUMPer” and “BUMPer”

In modern prosody, rhyme is far more flexible than this, and I would not encourage anyone to write with this strict a definition of rhyme but classicaly, that’s what it is.

It depends a lot on where you live, and where you learned to speak. I grew up with a lot of folks who specified “ink-pen” or “stick-pin,” because pin and pen were the same. When I learned that “Harry” came from “Henri” in French, I pronounced Harry with a more open sound than “carry.”

To my Hoosier ears, leave rhymes with believe, and liver with deliver. (Unless you mean, “Liver than you’ll ever be”)

I’m not referring to spelling. IF you agree a word doesn’t rhyme with itself then believe and leave are not rhymes right?

Let’s use liver and deliver. Say a poem

Joan was ugly
And so was her liver
Her face was snugly
But her body wouldn’t deliver.

Snugly and ugly rhyme but I don’t think words that just add an extra syllable

No. It’s not a pure rhyme. You’re right. I thought I’ve explained this already. (You have worse problems than rhyme in that little ditty, i.e. the rhythm of that final line.:slight_smile: )

Pin and pen were the same?

Well, if Webster’s now lists “kech” as an alternate pronunciation for “catch”, why not? Words are apparently pronounced however people pronounce them. My wife the army brat moved around too much as a kid to obtain a definable accent, living chiefly in Connecicut and Florida. For some reason she says dog as dawg, but the o in frog, log, and hog get pronounced as “ah”, as in toggle or boggle. There’s a frahg on the lahg in the bahg. He’s hahgging the egg nahg.

And cows don’t give milk. They give something called melk. Naive investors get bilked, but cows get melked. Go figure. After I slop the hahgs and feed the dawgs, I’ll ketch a ride with my brother to go melk a few cows–then warsh up for supper.

Harry came from Henri?

Wonder if all the guys named Harold who go by Harry know that. Guess you learn something new every day–esp. on the SDMB.

My source for “Henry to Harry” is Shakespearian. I never read Henry V, but I’ve seen a quote from it. Apparently, a character is whacked, and it’s described as “a touch of Harry in the night.” It occurred to me that the French Henri was closer to Harry than the English Henry was. The n in Henri sorta disappears. I’m not a scholar of Elizabethan English, and I could be all wrong.

When I was growing up in Anderson, Indiana, a large number of families had moved here from Kentucky and Tennessee to work in the auto parts plants. The kids from there indeed pronounced “pen” to sound exactly like “pin.” Both were pronounced “pin.” I didn’t pick that one up, but my speech shows a little hill-folk flavor at times.

Pin/Pen is very, very common in the south. AFAIK, I don’t pronounce any words with “ehn”. Always “ihn” instead.

As for dog, I say “daug” (rhymes with ‘caught’ but not ‘cot’).
Pretty sure this is this standard american english pronunciation.

Don’t have OED handy, but Henri -> Harry makes sense as the source of Harry as a nickname for Henry. Pretty sure that Harold -> Harry is much more common, however.

As for the OP, pulykamell is correct. ‘liver’ doesn’t rhyme with ‘deliver’ (strictly speaking), but ‘sliver’ and ‘giver’ do.

You’d be surprised. While there may be such thing as Standard American English, I don’t think there’s a standard American accent.

So with my Ohio accent, I have no idea what you’re talking about, because I can’t imagine how to pronounce “cot” and “caught” differently without sounding like Bertie Wooster.

Does this rhyme?

Red leaf,
Blue leaf.

Not technically. It’s just repetition. In both cases, the EEF is preceded by an L. However, consider this:

Blue leaf,
true leaf.

Yes, that’s a rhyme. In one case, the OO-LEEF is preceded by a BL and the other by a TR.

To get back to the OP, leave and believe don’t rhyme by themselves because they both have an L before the EEVE. However, you can make them rhyme thusly:

Why won’t you believe
that I see Guy leave? (French name ‘Guy’ is pronounce GEE.)

In this case the rhyme is based on EE-LEEVE, with a B and G respectively leading the rhymes.

And then we have:

The fermented honey
the workers deliver
will make all funny
the health of bee liver.

Eh, it could be verse.


Your example confuses me as I’ve always pronounced ‘caught’ and ‘cot’ exactly the same!
I’ve never heard them pronounced differently. How do you prononce them?

Fascinating. Along these lines of pronunciation, I am curious: Do you folks who pronounce cot and caught the same also pronounce walk and wok (the Asian cooking utensil) the same? Are sawed and sod the same too? How about raw and rah? (I’m trying not to imagine cheerleaders leaping high in their little skirts, shouting, “Raw! Raw! Raw!”)

Absolutely nothing judgmental intended here, just honestly wondering how these words sound to speakers in Indiana/Ohio.

Well, there’s the short ‘o’ sound represented in lot, cot, pot, hot, frog, hog, dog. Hear cot pronounced.

Then there’s the ‘aw’ sound represented in awe, law, caught, ought, taught. Hear caught pronounced.

These two vowel sounds should be pronounced differently from each other. But they should make the same sound consistently, e.g., dog and frog should rhyme perfectly (something that New Yorkers have trouble with).

Some Southerners and mid-Westerners tend to make the short o and the aw sound the same by pronouncing both like the short o. They say the aw sound with the mouths in the ah position. That’s too open and makes the aw sound like short o.

New Yorkers keep their mouth too closed for both the short o and the aw sound. They form their mouths in the oo shape (as in ‘use’) and then attempt to pronounce the short o and the aw with that closed and puckered mouth. That’s what makes New Yorkers say “New Yauwwkers” and “dauwwg” and “cauwwfee.”

The true aw is a mouth position half way between ah and oo, but with the back of the mouth more open.

The short o is a mouth position like the ah, but with the back of the mouth even more open.


That sounds halfway between “cut” and “caht” to this Australian listener. is a great site to hear different examples of accents. Select “English” on the left then “Birmingham, England” in the frame that pops up. The “Bob” in that sounds like the “o” in “got” “cot” et cetera to me. The “from” earlier on sounds like a schwa (unstressed vowel) to me.

I seem to recall from linguistics that American English actually lacks the phoneme of the short “o” from the example above as the English and Australians et cetera know it. I certainly can’t recall ever hearing it from an American.

Can anyone clarify?

I don’t know how many of you are into rhymes and/or limericks, but there is a quite long thread of poster limericks in the Puzzles forum over at JREF. The idea is to make a limerick using the first line that the last poster left, then leave the next first line. It’s real popular there. If any of you here would like to give it a try, I’m posting a link to Puzzles.

I have a Northern California accent, and yes, I pronounce every one of the word pairs you listed identically. It used to drive our choir teacher crazy. There have been previous threads centering around the fact that we (and some other Americans) also pronounce merry and marry the exact same way. The best-known example is a ditty supposedly from U.C. Berkeley that rhymes the words ferry and carry.