Perfect and imperfect rhymes
- The stressed vowel sound in both words must be identical, as well as any subsequent sounds. For example, the words "trouble" and "bubble" (from Shakespeare's Macbeth) form a perfect rhyme.
- The onset of the stressed syllable in the words must differ. For example, "bean" and "green" is a perfect rhyme, while "leave" and "believe" is not.
Word pairs that satisfy the first condition but not the second (such as the aforementioned "leave" and "believe") are technically identities (also known as identical rhymes or identicals). Homophones, being words of different meaning but identical pronunciation, are an example of identical rhyme.
Half rhyme or imperfect rhyme, sometimes called near-rhyme, lazy rhyme, or slant rhyme, is a type of rhyme formed by words with similar but not identical sounds. In most instances, either the vowel segments are different while the consonants are identical, or vice versa. This type of rhyme is also called approximate rhyme, inexact rhyme, imperfect rhyme (in contrast to perfect rhyme), off rhyme, analyzed rhyme, suspended rhyme, or sprung rhyme.
Use in hip hop/rap
Half rhyme is often used, along with assonance, in rap music. This can be used to avoid rhyming clichés (e.g., rhyming "knowledge" with "college") or obvious rhymes, and gives the writer greater freedom and flexibility in forming lines of verse. Additionally, some words have no perfect rhyme in English, necessitating the use of slant rhyme. The use of half rhyme may also enable the construction of longer multisyllabic rhymes than otherwise possible.
And be prosperous, though we live dangerous
Cops could just arrest me, blamin' us, we're held like hostages
Children's nursery rhyme This Little Piggy displays an unconventional case of slant rhyme. "Home" is rhymed with "none".
This little piggy stayed (at) home...this little piggy had none.
This time you really got something, it's such a clever idea
But it doesn't mean it's good because you found it at the libra-ri-a
In the heat of the day down in Mobile, Alabama
Workin' on the railroad with a steel drivin' hamma
- Smith, M., Joshi, A. (2020). Rhymes in the Flow: How Rappers Flip the Beat. United States: University of Michigan Press.
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