(redirected from assonant)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical.
Related to assonant: asyndeton, consonance


rhyme or rime, the most prominent of the literary artifices used in versification. Although it was used in ancient East Asian poetry, rhyme was practically unknown to the ancient Greeks and Romans. With the decline of the classical quantitative meters and the substitution of accentual meters, rhyme began to develop, especially in the sacred Latin poetry of the early Christian church. In the Middle Ages, end rhyme (rhyme at the end of a line), assonance (repetition of related vowel sounds), and alliteration (repetition of consonants, particularly at the beginning of words) were predominant in vernacular verse. After 1300 rhyme came to be the outstanding metrical mark of poetry until the introduction of blank verse in the 16th cent. Alliteration and assonance were both called rhyme by early writers, but today two words are said to rhyme only when the sound of the final accented syllable of one word (placed usually at the end of a line of verse) agrees with the final accented syllable of another word so placed. When the vowels in the final accented syllables of the two rhyming words and the consonants (if any) succeeding the vowel have exactly the same sound, it is called perfect rhyme, e.g., shroud and cloud, mark and bark. Many poets, however, particularly 20th-century poets, use imperfect or approximate rhymes, in which the rhymed vowels and even the consonants might be similar but not identical, e.g., groaned and ground. Two words cannot rhyme unless both are accented on the same syllable. When rhymes are of one syllable or end in a consonant with no mute e following, as sad and bad, they are said to be a single or masculine rhyme. This type predominates in English verse because of the great number of monosyllabic words in the language. When rhymes are of two syllables or, more properly, when they are not accented on the last syllable or end in a final mute e (able and cable), they are said to be weak endings, or double, or feminine, rhymes. Feminine rhyme predominates in Spanish and Italian poetry, while German and French use masculine and feminine rhyme equally. Triple rhymes, or three-syllable rhymes, as cheerily and wearily, are less common, especially in serious verse. Rhymes of more than three syllables are rare. Some rhymes, as wind (noun) and kind, are called eye-rhymes (words which are spelled alike but not pronounced alike) and have come into general use through “poetic license.” Occasionally the initial words in a line may rhyme; more often there may be a rhyme within the line. Rhymes when used in a set pattern combine with other metrical elements to form such verse structures as the sonnet, the Spenserian stanza, and the heroic couplet.


See rhyming dictionaries in English (which include discussions of versification) by J. Walker (1775; revised and reprinted frequently), B. Johnson (1931), and C. Wood (1943; 1947); studies by H. Lanz (1968) and E. Guggenheimer (1972).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(1) Repetition of similar vowel sounds in a line, strophe, or sentence.

(2) Imperfect rhyme; the accord between the endings of two or more verse lines in which the vowels coincide but there is greater freedom of the consonants—for example, krasivaia—neugasimaia; kliauze—mauzer. Assonance is one of the most important elements of medieval poetry, especially in the Romance languages. Nineteenth-century Russian poets rarely used assonance. It was revived by the symbolists and is widely used in contemporary Soviet poetry.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


the use of the same vowel sound with different consonants or the same consonant with different vowels in successive words or stressed syllables, as in a line of verse. Examples are time and light or mystery and mastery
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
25 Following Cai Zhonglang ji, waiji (Sbby), 3.3a, and Chuxue ji, 19.465: [Chinese Text Omitted] (with the alliterative - both having the initial [Chinese Text Omitted] - and assonant binome binfen [Chinese Text Omitted]), "flying about, moving chaotically").
When, for example, he admires Aubert's wonderfully assonant French rendering of the famously alliterative last sentence of "The Dead," reading Polyglot Joyce becomes entirely enchanting.
The intimate connections are assonant ("whispered a song along ..."), the muggy sun motif is released in his sweating (but the sweating is also associated with his feelings of panic).
Building on folkloric devices such as alliteration, repetition, masterful use of diminutives, assonant rhyme, he often introduces an original twist - inversion, ingenious paronomasia (which makes his poems almost untranslatable), rhymes that do not adhere to a fixed pattern and are not identical, frequent internal assonance to change the flow of the line - and achieves unexpected results.
The exact figure cannot be established for two reasons: not all of the Ebla tablets have been, so far, published or excerpted; and it is not always possible to be certain whether some assonant names are mere variants or represent different entities.
Stone's pure and simple sound effects, her assonant lines and drummer's beats, are among the hardest to achieve, and the sort of radical innocence they embody and extend to us reveals the rare gift of a perfect poetic ear.
The sense of inescapable movement is heightened by the repetition of sounds: the alliterative "wi's" in "wild winds," the assonant long "o's" in "coldly blows." (The alliterations are picked up in the second line of the second stanza in those "bare boughs weighed with snow.") The emphatic consonance binds the line, the psyche, and brings us in range of the oldest Celtic poetries, the archaic powers of language.
In Stevens, a line such as "Inanimate in an inert savoir" is one that, whilst indicating a sort of semantic entropy, is acoustically creative, energized by an audible dance of consonants and assonants as well as its playful reaching toward French.
To minimize the impression of dogmatism, he credits the seemingly infallible gauge of his "ear": "murther & thunder have an unpleasant effect on my ear--a sort of tintinnation--they are assonants"; "I almost feel ashamed of my boldness but my ear seemed to require the swell & passion of a 12 syllable Line"; "In a Tragedy any word must be improper that does not convey an unmisunderstandable sense to the ear"; "Troy `sproud sp oi ls.