The Advanced Rhyming Dictionary for Rappers and Poets
Adam ‘Shuffle-T’ Woollard and Jamie ‘Bleez’ Blackmore
This book is a culmination of over 6 years’ work but it has been worth it to have the first multi-syllabic rhyming dictionary. We hope that you will share our passions for rhymes and will use this as a reference book, a work book and hopefully a fun exercise book by using the game element that can also be taken from this dictionary.
These kind of rhymes can take over your life. They are insanely addictive and they’ve been a constant obsession of mine for close to a decade. The main purpose of this book will be to add as many of your own rhymes to it and come up with some amazing material, using this book as something to kick start the creative process.
The type of rhymes that are in this book are multi-syllabic, meaning that more than one of the syllables rhyme. Traditional rhyme dictionaries rhyme just the end of the word or phrase, or just single-syllable rhyme schemes. Cat/bat/mat, etc. What this dictionary aims to do, however, is include 2 and 3 syllable rhyme schemes. The rhyming syllables we are interested in are the ‘stressed’ syllables. For example in the phrase ‘Writer’s room’ the first and last syllables are stressed, shown here in bold: ‘ WRIter’s ROOM’. The second, middle, syllable doesn’t really have a vowel sound, it’s a schwa. In a 2 syllable multi-syllabic rhyme, both syllables are stressed and there is no unstressed syllable. For instance, in the band name ‘ PINK FLOYD’, both syllables must be rhymed.
When we perform rhymes like this, we are less focused on ‘perfect rhymes’. This is where not only the assonance or ‘vowel sound’ rhymes, but the consonance, too. This is because when we perform multi-syllabic rhymes, there is an inherent rhythm to them, which means that that perfection is not needed as much for it to sound pleasant. If we were to take, for example, ‘stunt car’ and ‘love heart’ then these are multi-syllabic rhymes because the assonance rhymes: UH-AR. But ‘love’ would not traditionally rhyme with ‘stunt’. And ‘car’ does not perfectly rhyme with ‘heart’. However, when we read them aloud: Stunt car/love heart/tongue bar/junk yard, we can hear the inherent rhythm carryied through the vowel sounds and allowing the words to rhyme together (this is especially forgiving when heard at the end of a line, as in a traditional rap or poem).
So! For the 2 syllable schemes, there are only so many combinations of sounds you can have. As it see it, there are 18 vowel sounds in the sense we are talking about, shown here (I have tried to represent each one’s sound on the left, this is how it is represented in the index, which I will explain later on):
A – as in Babe.
AH – as in Cat.
AR – as in Car.
AIR – as in Hair.
E – as in Speed.
EAR – as in Fear.
EH – as in Bed.
ER – as in Burn.
I – as in Lie.
IH – as in Kid.
O – as in Snow.
OH – as in God.
OR – as in Lord.
OW – as in Cow.
OOH – as in Look or Could.
OI – as in Toy.
U – as in Broom or Flu.
UH – as in Bug.
When we get into the north of England, some of these sounds have overlap, specifically the ‘OOH’ as in ‘wood’ and ‘UH’ as in ‘BUG’, but this should not be affected by the layout in this book, which attempts to cater to as many varying accents as possible.
For the 2-syllable words we have in this book, both syllables will be stressed, like Laptop/roadworks/Fight Club/Hip flask. It won’t include a scheme on table/heaven/sabre/gammon because they only have one stressed syllable, followed by an unstressed syllable and can be found in many traditional rhyming dictionaries (known as double rhymes, where there is only one stressed syllable).
When it comes to the 3-syllable words, they also only have 2 stressed syllables, but they have an unstressed syllable in the middle. Like Aqueduct/belly laugh/cavalier/battle rap. There will not be words like volcano/hard worker/Train journey/John Lennon because they don’t follow the ‘stressed-unstressed-stressed’ pattern.
As a side note, the only suggestions included in this book are words, phrases or terms that are things in their own context, things that are in common parlance that most people should know. This includes celebrity names, place names, idioms, film titles, etc. If it’s deemed significant enough to be known by most people this book is aimed at, then it’ll stay in here. It is true that this book is slightly more catered towards a British audience, but that does not stop there being plenty of references to the Americas and other nations.
Using the index in this book will hopefully be quite straight-forward, but just in case, I will include some information on how to use it. It was designed to be as intuitive as possible so that you don’t have to search for a particular word to rhyme with, just the sound itself. Say you are writing and you come up against the rhyme ‘missing man’. You have writer’s block, but you want to keep going, so you look to your multi-syllabic rhyme dictionary. You don’t search for ‘missing man’ because it might not even be in the book, after all it’s just two words you put together out of all the word combinations you could have chosen. So instead, you search for the sounds. Now, for missing man, that would be ‘IH-AH’ as in the vowel sounds you find in ‘MISSing MAN’, since the middle syllables are always unstressed in this book for 3-syllable words. So what you would do, is go to the back of the book and look for the first sound: ‘IH’. The sounds in the index are in alphabetical order of the vowel so you would go past A, AH, AR, AIR, etc until you got to the suggestions beginning with I and then you would find the ‘IH’ sound. Then you look down the ‘IH’ sounds, of which there will be 18, and look for the corresponding second sound. For ‘Missing man’ that is the 2nd stressed syllable: ‘ MAN’, which is the ‘AH’ sound. So when you find ‘IH-AH’, it will have a page number next to it and when you turn to that page, the rhyme scheme ‘IH-AH’ will be there for 2-syllable ‘Six pack/Big Mac/Kitkat’ and the 3-syllable ‘Instagram/Piggyback/gingersnap’.
We haven’t wasted time by adding any suggestions in this book that aren’t self-contained ideas. For example, in the scheme ‘OW-AR’ we don’t have ‘loud bark’ because it’s not already a thing, it’s just an adjective next to a noun and if we did that then there would be infinite combinations of words we could add. However, we do have ‘South Park’ because most people are aware of the show. We also have ‘cow shark’ which, it turns out, is a species of shark (bit obscure, but it wasn’t the easiest rhyme scheme). And ‘clown car’, which draws to our imagination the clown’s car that holds an impossible number of people, which has become an idea most are familiar with. And ‘lounge bar’, because we know what they are, they are actual things, not just ‘brown mark’ which is a vague, non-concrete idea.
One of the rhymes for ‘South Park’ is ‘OutKast’ as in the band. Now, if you are from the north of England, North America, or countless other places, you will pronounce ‘OutKast’ not like ‘OW-AR,’ but like ‘OW-AH’ so that it rhymes with ‘mouse trap’ or ‘housecat’. This was one of the biggest issues with the book and how that would be fixed was haunting me. Then, my partner suggested a very elegant solution, which you will see utilised when you get to the first ‘AR’ rhyme scheme that contains such an example.
Effectively, when you see that there is a discrepancy between the scheme and how you say the scheme, there will hopefully be a note that redirects you to the page that has the scheme as you would pronounce it. For example – you would see ‘OutKast/houseplant and downdraft’ and there will be a note underneath the group which tells you to turn to page, let’s say 25 where the scheme will continue with ‘outback/mouse trap/housecat’ etc. So even if your accent is not the same as the writer’s, you will still be able to find the rhyme scheme you’re looking for.
What this doesn’t cover, of course, is that this is a dictionary written mainly by 2 Brits, so a lot of the references will be Anglo-centric, but we have managed to fit in celebrities from both sides of the pond as well as locations, etc, so hopefully that won’t be too much of an issue.
What this book is not designed to be is a collection of obscure words you have to look up in a separate dictionary, or online. This is intended to be a practical rhyming dictionary for people writing songs, hip-hop, poetry and anything else that could employ multi-syllabic rhymes that are intuitive and self-contained. You won’t often find obscure mythological references, scientific words for diseases or mathematical terms. The reason for this is because this book is designed to be really practical as a tool for rappers and writers: something that will help you again and again, not something that you find a few nice rhymes in and never picked up again.
Another note for this book is on the letter L. It seems odd, but Ls can throw you right off of a rhyme scheme. I’m not a linguist and I’m not going to look up the terms because it doesn’t really matter, but the key take away is that Ls can sometimes change the rhyme, depending on where they are in a word. For example, the word ‘Bold’ only really rhymes with other words that have an L at, or towards, the end. Bold doesn’t (at least in my accent, I’m sure it’s different in different places) rhyme with, say, ‘code’ or ‘zone’, it rhymes with ‘goal’ and ‘fold’. It is its own unique sound, but to avoid complication, I have tried to (for the most part) eliminate ‘L’s that occur in this position from the book. I just think it makes it simpler. Maybe I will include them in a future edition.
We also haven’t added every single rhyme we could think of. A lot of lists have about 20 other rhymes that could be added that we know about, but there’s no point making one scheme 40 rhymes long when some more difficult schemes only have a small handful, or none at all in some cases. This is simply because some rhyme schemes are a lot easier than others and some are very difficult. Also, this is a workbook as well as a dictionary and it is important that people can add to the schemes themselves, rather than just have 1,000 rhymes per scheme and no space to contribute.
The Multi Game
The game aspect of this book has been something I have played as soon as I had enough rhymes to play it with and one that many of my family and friends have played to great enjoyment (so they tell me). It is also a great way to get better at clocking multi-syllabic rhymes quicker. The idea is this…
The game’s host (the person holding the book) starts off a rhyme scheme “the rhyme scheme is ‘handiwork’”. The other players will now accept the rhyme scheme as AH-ER and get thinking along those lines. The game’s host then gives clues to the players as to what the next rhyme in the book’s sequence is:
“Someone who doesn’t speak a lot is…”
The players will compete to be the first to answer: “Taciturn”
“At the end of the financial year, you need to do your…”
“And if there was less to pay than you’d expected you would have”
“Cash to burn”
Etc, etc, etc. It’s a very addictive game, especially if you have a good game’s host who can come up with difficult clues so that it’s harder to guess. For an extra layer of the game, you could make the clues rhyme with the answer. What a fun way to spend your Sunday afternoons. Sudoku’s boring, anyway.
I won’t ramble on anymore, that’s about it. I hope you enjoy this book and find it useful and, hopefully, fun as well. We have spent a lot of time on this and it means the world to hold a physical copy (although, obviously, at the moment, I’m typing this and don’t have a copy, but I’m really hoping it feels as amazing as I’m thinking it will). I look forward to hearing people clocking rhymes we’ve never thought of and perfecting schemes and learning how to rhyme effectively. Yes indeed.
Overleaf is a comprehensive list of all the various people who have helped with this book and contributed, please read the names and also be sure to look up their music, battle raps and poetry and I’m sure you will see why they are people I admire.