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What Is a Rhyming Dictionary?

By K. K. Lowen
Updated May 23, 2024
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A rhyming dictionary is a reference guide containing lists of words that sound similar to one another. Poets and songwriters sometimes use rhyming dictionaries because many forms of lyrics and poetry commonly utilize rhyming words. Other professionals also may use the dictionaries for a number of purposes, such as to aid in the creation of marketing slogans. Children may also use dictionaries of rhyming words for fun or to help develop language skills.

Rhyming dictionaries sometimes suggest words that do not rhyme exactly with other words. Beyond perfect rhymes, the guides may offer listings of half rhymes, sometimes called slant rhymes. Half rhymes are words that end with similar consonants or sound alike when spoken aloud. Some rhyming dictionaries also feature lists of visual rhymes, known as eye rhymes, that look as though they should sound the same but actually have different pronunciations when spoken.

When a company creates a rhyming dictionary, it may experience difficulties because the basis for the word lists is pronunciation, which sometimes varies by region. Different dialects of a language may exist in which the same written word has a different pronunciation. The problem can lead to some confusion over whether a specific word actually rhymes with another word. Some rhyming dictionaries provide notes about pronunciation variations, and an online rhyming dictionary may make space for people to comment on words that they pronounce differently.

Poetry and lyric writing often requires the use of rhymes. A rhyming dictionary gives poets and songwriters access to lists of word rhymes, which may allow them to write more intricate and interesting verses. Many people use rhyming guides to find words that otherwise might not have come to mind or to find atypical rhymes that will make their work more unique.

Rap and hip-hop lyrics also require a considerable number of rhyming words and phrases. Rapping is sometimes called rhyming, and the stature of rap or hip-hop verses is sometimes measured by the amount and uniqueness of rhymes used. Some rap writers utilize rhyming dictionaries to increase and vary their vocabulary, using them to find the best possible word combinations.

Some people purchase rhyming dictionaries or use the online dictionaries for a variety of other reasons. Rhyme reference guides could be useful for any number of occasions. Some puzzles and games, for example, may be easier with the use of a rhyming dictionary. Additionally, children sometimes enjoy the books because they are fun to look through.

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