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How to Write a Limerick

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Woman writing in notebook in coffee shop
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You might need to write a limerick for an assignment, or you may want to learn the art just for fun or to impress a friend. Limericks are fun--they usually have a bit of a twist and a perhaps a silly element. And best of all, they can be a great way to express how clever and creative you can be!

A limerick contains five lines. In this mini-poem, the first, second, and fifth lines rhyme, and the third and fourth lines rhyme. Here is an example:

There once was a student named Dwight,
Who slept only three hours a night.
He dozed in the classroom
And snoozed in the bathroom,
So Dwight’s college options are slight.

There is also a certain rhythm to a limerick that makes it unique. The meter, or the number of beats (stressed syllables) per lines, is 3,3,2,2,3. For example, in the second line, the three stressed points are slept, three, and night.

The syllabification is (usually) 8,8,5,5,8, but there is some variation in this. In the limerick above, there are actually 6 syllables in the third and fourth lines.

To write your own limerick, begin with a person and/or a place. Make sure that one or both of them are easy to rhyme. For your first try, start with “there once was” and finish the first line with five more syllables. Example: There once was a boy from Cancun.

Now think of a feature or an event and write a line that ends in a word that rhymes with Cancun, such as: Whose eyes were as round as the moon.

Next, skip to the fifth line, which will be the final line that includes the twist or punch line. What are some of your rhyming word choices? There are many.

 

  • Balloon
  • Raccoon
  • Spoon
  • maroon

 

Try to think up something funny or clever to say and write a line that will end with one of your rhyming words. (You will find that the two short lines in the middle are easy to come up with. You can work on those last.)

Here is one possible result:

There once was a boy from Cancun,
Whose eyes were as round as the moon.
That wasn’t so bad,
But the nose that he had
Was as long and as flat as a spoon.

Have fun!

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