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What Is a Holorime?

By A. Leverkuhn
Updated May 23, 2024
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A holorime is a set of poetic or lyrical lines where all syllables of one line rhyme with all of the syllables of another. This technique can also be defined as sets of lines having more than a certain number of rhyming syllables. These are often constructed in sets of double lines or couplets.

As a very unique sort of rhyming, the holorime is relatively difficult to construct. In a true holorime, where all syllables are rhyming, words with multiple syllables must be treated with special attention. This is in contrast to simple rhymes, where only the last syllable at the end of the line needs to rhyme with another.

Among other elaborate and compelling types of poetry, holorime has been an established part of literature and lyricism in English and French societies. Instances of this somewhat obscure art form have been used to tell stories, remark on civilizations or landmarks, and even to describe world leaders. The intriguing sound of the holorime is part of its appeal to listeners over many centuries.

For an example of a holorime, consider the short line, “my pen has ink.” Here, to construct the holorime, the poet must rhyme all four syllables, for instance, as follows “Try, then, and think.” This example demonstrates how the two lines of this type of couplet can have very different meanings; here, the first is a statement, and the second, an admonition.

Another way to think about constructing this type of poetry is to consider how to form other elaborate lexical forms. One of these is a palindrome. In the palindrome, the letters of the entire phrase must be spelled the same backward and forward. Palindromes create a similar challenge for writers as holorimes.

One characteristic of this “high rhyme,” or “rich rhyme” as it is known in French, is that the resulting sounds of these couplets can be perceived as “sticky” or innately likely to remain in the heads of listeners. In fact, some have drawn a link between these types of constructions, and the “mantras” that become mental tics in certain kinds of diagnosed mental disorders. Informally, those who pay direct attention to the sounds of words are likely to focus on holorimes, sometimes to the point of obsession. Examining this link is an example of research that blends behavioral and linguistic/lexical components.

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