Knowing a Masculine and Feminine Rhyme in Poetry

Knowing a Masculine and Feminine Rhyme in Poetry

You may have heard of a Rhyme but may not know whether it has a gender to it. This is a regular question people may have asked themselves and wonder how possible it is.

Yes! Just like human rhymes can also be classified as feminine and masculine depending on how the syllable is stressed in poetry. While we don’t usually think of rhymes as gendered, there is such a thing as masculine and feminine rhyme.

They utilise different patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables, offer very different tones from each other, and have an effect on the overall atmosphere of the poem.

It is important to note that these terms do not indicate the genders of the words used, though gendered words are rather common in Romanic languages. English, ultimately being a Germanic language despite its storied history with the French language, has very few gendered words to begin with.

Primary example is “blonde” and “blond”.

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The prevailing theory behind the origin of these terms is that they were likely only gendered to emphasise that they stand as opposites since one deals in a stressed single rhyme and the other consists of a double rhyme ending in an unstressed syllable.

As you may know rhyme is defined as the sameness or repeated pattern of sound at the end of the lines of a poem.

What’s a Masculine Rhyme?

This is a rhyme that ends with a heavy stress on the final syllable in each rhyming word. An example is dime and time, tide and ride, support and report. Most writers often use masculine rhyme in their literary works.

A Masculine Rhyme is defined as a rhyme that ends with a heavy stress on the final syllable in each rhyming word.

Why masculine rhyme is used by poets?

Masculine rhyme can have many purposes. It can link lines of poetry together, emphasise certain ideas, and create a distinctive sound pattern.

What is a masculine rhyme example?

An example of a masculine rhyme pair is book/look, or grain/refrain. Only the last syllable of each word needs to rhyme, and the rhymed syllables must be stressed

What’s a Feminine Rhyme?

This is a type of rhyme that occurs in a final unstressed syllable. It does not involve one syllable but involves two syllables. In English literature most of these two syllables are termed as double rhyme and it creates a feminine ending.  For example, pending and sending, motion and notion.

A Feminine Rhyme is defined as a rhyme that occurs in a final unstressed syllable.

A feminine rhyme consists of at least two words, each having a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable. A feminine rhyme must have a minimum of two words. The second-to-last syllable rhymes with another second-to-last syllable, and both words have a consistent unstressed ending sound.

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When this rhyming scheme is employed with two-syllable words it is referred to as a double rhyme. When the rhyming words have three syllables the technique is called a triple rhyme.

A syllable is the individual unit of phonological speech that is used to create words. Syllables are arranged in a sequence to form words. Words can be made up of a single syllable, such as cat, or many syllables, such as the word digestive.

The word digestive can be divided into three units of sound or syllables: di-ges-tive.

In words, some syllables are vocalised harder and more pronounced than others. The segment of sound that is emphasised is called the stressed syllable. A stressed syllable can be at the beginning, middle, or end of a word. In the word digestive, the stressed syllable is in the middle.

The unstressed syllable’s function is complementary to stressed syllables. Unstressed syllables are quieter, softer, and sometimes even unclearly pronounced. In the word digestive, the first and last syllables are unstressed:


Examples of feminine rhymes:

Double rhyme example: seeing and being. Both words contain two syllables, the words have the same unstressed -ing ending. The rhyme is found in the words see and be.

Triple rhyme example: beautiful and dutiful. These words have three syllables, the consistent unstressed ending of -ful. The rhyme is between the two-syllable root words of beauty and duty.

Read More: Types of Rhymes in Poetry with short Examples Of Poems with Poetic Sound

In poetry, feminine rhyme is a way of organising the words by the stressed and unstressed syllables. In doing this the words have a common ending and rhyme at the second to the last syllable.

An example of feminine rhyme is the words label and table. The common final syllable in this example is -ble. The rhyme comes from the first syllables of la- and ta-.

The difference between feminine and masculine rhyme:

Masculine rhyme only rhymes the final, stressed syllable of a word at the end of each line of poetry while Feminine rhyme must rhyme the last two syllables of each word, the first of which should be stressed and the second of which should be unstressed.

Masculine Rhyme is a monosyllabic or single-syllable rhyme that’s only found in the stressed last syllables. The “Rhyme” occurs between the stressed ending syllables of two lines

Feminine rhyme, also called double rhyme, in poetry, a rhyme involving two syllables as in motion and ocean or willow and billow. The term feminine rhyme is also sometimes applied to triple rhymes, or rhymes involving three syllables such as exciting and inviting. Robert Browning alternates feminine and masculine rhymes in his “Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister

To determine if words use a masculine or feminine rhyme, review the syllables in each word. Then determine where the rhyme occurs. If the rhyme is at the final syllable it is a masculine rhyme. If the rhyme is the second-to-last syllable it is a feminine rhyme.

Example: hat/cat/bat. All of the words end with the -at sound and therefore rhyme as masculine.

Polysyllabic masculine rhyme example: collect/protect/respect. These words end with the -ect sound to create a masculine rhyme.

A feminine rhyme is more complex and harder to identify than a masculine rhyme. A feminine rhyme must be polysyllabic with the ending sound unstressed. The stressed syllable is the next-to-last in the word. For example, the words steaming and beaming, both words have the -ing ending and the rhyme is found in the first syllable of steam and beam.

These words use feminine rhyme. Another example would be the words ocean and motion. Both of these words share the same nonstressed ending sound of -n. The rhyme is found in the first syllables.

Compare these Feminine Rhyme Poems:

Example is William Shakespeare’s SONNET 20 “A Woman’s Face with Nature’s Own Hand”

A woman’s face with Nature’s own hand painted

Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion;

A woman’s gentle heart, but not acquainted

With shifting change, as is false women’s fashion;

An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,

Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;

A man in hue, all ‘hues’ in his controlling,

Much steals men’s eyes and women’s souls amazeth.

And for a woman wert thou first created;

Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting,

And by addition me of thee defeated,

By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.

But since she prick’d thee out for women’s pleasure,

Mine be thy love and thy love’s use their treasure.

THORN OF HER CROWN by Joyceline Natally Cudjoe

Her grief abounds from her slight vain pleasure

In moment she clothed in pride from her leisure

If she could see her pageant and crowning

She would arise from that idle frowning

The mistress beauty she holds is dying

And her pink lips is now a stilled flying

All that wig and lipstick from her fashion

Has now become dun in her heart passion

The beautiful eyes she owns still sleeping

While yesterday her joy was found creeping

Vanity, vanity! No more her staring

Fashion is no more in her heart caring

The wing of the mighty time is scrolling

Man’s fate is still under it and crawling.

Example of a Masculine Poem
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day By William Shakespeare

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his gold complexion dimmed;

And every fair from fair sometime declines,

By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed:

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,

Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;

Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade

When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Looking at the feminine rhyme poem and the masculine Rhyme poem, it will be easy for any reader to be able to distinguish between Feminine and Masculine Rhyme.


Joyceline Natally Cudjoe

An Entertainment Columnist, Content Writer, Blogger, Novelist, Poet, and a Publicist. For business or story tip off, contact me on +233 24 646 6866 or email: [email protected]

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