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Masculine Rhyme: Definition & Examples

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Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

In poetry, masculine rhyme is a repetition of different words that have similar sounds in the last syllable of each word. Discover more about masculine rhyme, including examples and reasons why writers use this type of rhyming in their works. Updated: 10/12/2021

Rhyme

When you think of poetry, what is the first thing that comes to mind? For many people it is the sing-song aspect of poems, of which rhyme is a major factor. Rhyme occurs when two or more words repeat the same sound.

There are many types of rhyme. Perhaps the most obvious is called masculine rhyme. Masculine rhyme occurs when the rhyme is on the final syllable of the two rhyming words. In one syllable words, masculine rhyme is easy to identify. For example, book and cook are only one syllable, and the repetition is the vowel sound ending with the k sound.

However, masculine rhyme can also occur in multi-syllable words. In the pair, decays and days, the rhyme is still on the final syllable of decays and the only syllable in days. Look at one final pair: disdain and complain. Both are two syllable words, and the rhyme occurs on the second syllable with the sound -ain. However, in order for multi-syllable words to have masculine rhyme, the stress must be on the final syllable as well. This means that words that stress the first syllable of the word cannot have masculine rhyme. For example, water and banter are multi-syllable words ending with the same sound. However, both these words stress the first syllable. Therefore, the two do not have masculine rhyme.

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Examples of Masculine Rhyme

Poets use rhyme as a means to create sound patterns in their works. These patterns often either create a specific audio effect on the reader, or can be used to emphasize a message from the author. Masculine rhyme also serves those purposes. Often masculine rhyme occurs in the final words of lines in poems and thus links those lines together to create a specific sound or to stress a concept. Let's look at some examples in poetry. Read these two lines by A. E. Housman:

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

Is hung with bloom along the bough.

The words showing masculine rhyme are now and bough. These are easy lines to see how a poet can use masculine rhyme to link lines. The thought is not complete in the first line and the reader must continue to discover the true meaning, which is that Housman is appreciating a lovely cherry tree in bloom.

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