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If you’ve ever heard ‘Yankee Doodle’ or ‘The Star Spangled Banner’, you’ve been exposed to feminine rhyme. In this lesson, you’ll learn how to define this literary term, as well as see some famous examples and test your know-how with a short quiz.

Definition of Feminine Rhyme

Feminine rhymes happen when the next-to-last syllable makes a rhyming sound with the next-to-last syllable from another word. The last syllables in both words sound exactly the same. Before we can fully understand feminine rhyme, however, we should take a look at the more widely used masculine rhyme.

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Most poems that contain rhyme use masculine rhyme. In these rhymes, the final, stressed syllable in the word is the one that rhymes. For example, ‘annoy’ and ‘destroy’ have masculine rhyme because their second syllables rhyme.

In one syllable words, any rhyme is masculine. So ‘cat’ rhymes with ‘rat’ in the masculine way. ‘Boy’ also has a masculine rhyme with ‘destroy’.

In this case, the last syllable of each word is the loud one, and that’s what creates the rhyme.With feminine rhyme, the syllable that’s doing the rhyming is the second-to-last syllable, and the ends of the rhyming words must have the same sound. Words like ‘label’ and ‘table’ have a feminine rhyme.

The first syllables are louder, and they rhyme with each other, while the second syllables are softer and make the same sound.Another pair of words that have a feminine rhyme would be ‘sleeping’ and ‘creeping’. They have the same sound at the end, and the second to last syllable is what makes the rhyme.

Because there are two syllables involved, sometimes feminine rhyme is called double rhyme.

Examples of Feminine Rhyme

Some famous songs use feminine rhyme. Here’s one:Yankee Doodle went to townA-riding on a ponyHe stuck a feather in his hatAnd called it macaroniIn this song, the second line ends with ‘pony’ and the last line ends with ‘macaroni.

‘ The second-to-last syllables in both of those words rhyme, and the last syllable makes the same sound, so this is a feminine rhyme.Here’s another well-known song:Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early lightWhat so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?In this one, the first and third lines end in a masculine rhyme – ‘light’ rhymes with ‘fight.’ The second and fourth lines have a feminine rhyme, ‘gleaming’ with ‘streaming.’ (‘gleam’ and ‘stream’ make a rhyme, and both words end in an identical ‘ing’ sound)

Lesson Summary

Feminine rhymes happen when the next-to-last syllable makes a rhyming sound with the next-to-last syllable from another word. The last syllables in both words sound exactly the same.

Feminine rhyme is common in English poetry, and it often alternates with masculine rhyme, as in the cases of ‘Yankee Doodle’ and ‘The Star Spangled Banner.’ In masculine rhyme, the final, stressed syllable in the word is the one that rhymes.

Learning Outcomes

When you are done, you should be able to:

  • Describe feminine rhyme
  • Explain the difference between feminine and masculine rhyme
  • Recall another name for feminine rhyme
  • Explain some examples of feminine rhyme

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