Sunday, 3 August 2014

Ever been told ‘Orange’, ‘Silver’ and ‘Purple’ don’t rhyme with anything?

The word ‘rhyme’ comes from Old French ‘rime’ or ‘ryme’, possibly derived from the Germanic ‘rim’ meaning a series or sequence. Recently, a well-known internet blog posted a list of words that do not have rhymes in modern English. That list was:

Orange*
Bulb
Angel
Silver*
Month
Depth
Purple*
Breadth
Width*

[* see below]

However, it may not be as simple as that. In fact, to say all the above words are without a rhyme is  an untruth. Some of them do have rhymes, yet their rhyming partners may be vastly unknown. So here are some of the words with a rhyming partner:

Orange > Blorenge (a hill in Wales)
Silver > ‘chilver’ (a female lamb). Still common in southern dialects and present in the full OED but not evidenced since 1883 (thanks to Mike for researching!).
Purple > ‘curple’ (hindquarters of a horse or donkey), ‘hirple’ (to walk with a limp), ‘nurple’ (the act of roughly twisting a nipple)
Width > ‘sidth’ (a length of something, especially something that drapes or trails).


Obviously, these rhyming words are uncommon. Nevertheless, they do exist. So next time you get a Christmas cracker declaring some words do not have rhymes, you will know otherwise!

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