Finding the Write #Words? No. 35: The Penguin Rhyming Dictionary

Continuing the description of books on words and the English language listed in the introductory post, which you’ll find here.

Book 35: The Penguin Rhyming Dictionary

Paperback, 530 pages. Published in 1985 by Viking and, in the same year, by Penguin Books, and reprinted in 1986, which is the edition I own. It cost me £4.95. The 1985 edition is still available as a paperback for £9.68 new, and £4.95 in a used version. There appears to be a newer version, published in hardback in 1992, and available as a used book for £1.78.

The book is essentially divided into two sections, the smaller one being the 239-page index. The idea is that you have a word, probably in a poem, and you need something to rhyme with it. Find your word in the index and the entry will lead you to the numbered items where a proper rhyme and, in some cases, an example of assonance appears.

So, opened at random at pages 274/275, I come upon the end of the section dealing with rhymes for -ith,

Which starts with ‘kith, myth, Smith, pith, grith (place of safety), withe (twig used for binding).’ And goes on through two-syllable words from ‘Hadith (Mohammedan tradition) through to Penrith’, and then to three-syllable words; ‘sixtieth, through to silversmith’. Page 274 ends with entries to rhyme with –‘nth, ‘millionth, billionth, trillionth, thousandth, dozenth’. Page 275 starts with suggestions for -ength, listing ‘length, strength, wavelength.’ And continues alphabetically until the entry starts for -iv, commencing with ‘chiv (Slang knife), div, give, live, spiv, sieve, Tiv (member of African people)’. Again, this entry goes over the page to suggest two-, three-, and four-syllable words, ‘…diminutive, substitutive, institutive, constitutive.’

So, if I start with the index, searching for rhymes for ‘kith’ it directs me to section 458, which then lists the suggestions given above. The system is simple, and easy to follow.

I’m a poet under construction at present, and don’t often use rhyme, finding it frequently pretentious and sometimes twee, though I know for a lot of people poetry without rhyme is seen as prose. I do occasionally want an internal rhyme, and even, more rarely, an end-of-line rhyme, and I use rhyme in prose for emphasis. I’ve generally used this dictionary to discover the most appropriate word(s).

English is a complex language, made up of words from many countries, and borrows rules of grammar, punctuation and even style from the originating lands, which can make it interestingly familiar to learners but also frequently frustratingly baffling to the same students.

Those learning the English Language will find help on pronunciation here. And you’ll find a friendly group on Facebook through this link.

And, for those with a real interest in English and considering their future, here’s a link that suggests the many possible career opportunities open to those with a degree in the subject. It’s also a link to an online university, and therefore an advert for their services. I know nothing of the institution, but the list of possible career choices might be useful.

Earlier posts in the series can be found by clicking on the titles below.

2. A Dictionary of Misunderstood Misused Mispronounced Words.
3. A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English.
4. A Miscellany for Word Lovers.
5. AMERICAN ENGLISH ENGLISH AMERICAN.
6. A Dictionary of Rhyming Slang.
7. Brit-think, American-think.
8. Bryson’s Dictionary for Writers and Editors.
9. Collins English Dictionary.
10. Current English Usage.
11. Descriptionary; a Thematic Dictionary.
12. Divided by a Common Language.
13. Eats Shoots & Leaves.
14. English Prepositional Idioms.
15. Fowler’s Modern English Usage.
16. Hart’s Rules for Compositors and Readers.
17. Hartrampf’s Vocabulary Builder.
18. i before e (except after c).
19. Longman Companion to English Literature.
20. New Hart’s Rules.
21. New Nuttall Dictionary of English Synonyms and Antonyms.
22. Oxford Compact Thesaurus.
23. Oxford Dictionary of Current Idiomatic English.
24. Roget’s Thesaurus.
25. Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.
26. The Dictionary of Diseased English.
27. The Elements of Style.
28. The Emotion Thesaurus.
29. The Grouchy Grammarian.
30. The Last Word.
31. The Little Red Writing Book.
32. The Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors.
33. The Oxford Manual of Style.
34. The Oxford Spelling Dictionary.

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