What is the Rhyme Scheme of a Limerick

What is a Limerick

A limerick is a humorous line with five lines. Limericks are often nonsensical, comical and even lewd. They are also a popular form in nursery rhymes.

This poetic form first emerged in the early 18th century. But it was the poems of Edward Lear in the 19th century that made limericks a popular poetic form.

Limericks always adhere to a strict rhyme scheme and rhythm, making them easy to memorize.

What is the Rhyme Scheme of a Limerick

A limerick is composed of five lines. The rhyme scheme of a limerick is AABBA. That means the first, second and fifth lines rhyme with each other whereas the third and fourth lines rhyme with each other.

The first, second and fifth lines of a limerick typically have three feet whereas the third and fourth lines have two feet each. The dominant meter is anapaestic.

The rhyme of a typical limerick will look something like this:

bah-BAH bah-bah-BAH bah-bah-BAH

bah-BAH bah-bah-BAH bah-bah-BAH

bah-BAH bah-bah-BAH

bah-BAH bah-bah-BAH

bah-BAH bah-bah-BAH bah-bah-BAH

The first line of a limerick typically introduces a person or a place, with the name of the person/place appearing at the end of the first line. This end word establishes the rhyme scheme for the second and fifth lines. In some of the early limericks, the last line was the repetition of the first line.

What is the Rhyme Scheme of a Limerick

Examples of Limerick

As mentioned in the introduction, Edward Lear was a prominent figure in limerick poems. Given below are some of his limericks. You can observe the above-mentioned rhyming scheme and other features in the following examples.

There was an Old Person of Dover,

Who rushed through a field of blue Clover;

But some very large bees,

Stung his nose and his knees,

So he very soon went back to Dover.


There was a Young Person of Crete,

Whose toilette was far from complete;

She dressed in a sack,

Spickle-speckled with black,

That ombliferous person of Crete.What is the Rhyme Scheme of a Limerick - 3Here’s a limerick written by Odgen Nash:

A flea and a fly in a flue

Were imprisoned, so what could they do?

Said the fly, “let us flee!”

“Let us fly!” said the flea.

So they flew through a flaw in the flue.

The following limerick, whose writer is unknown,  is written on the very nature of limericks.

“The limerick packs laughs anatomical

Into space that is quite economical.

But the good ones I’ve seen

So seldom are clean

And the clean ones so seldom are comical.”


  • A limerick is a humorous  five-lined poem.
  • The first, second and fifth lines are three feet each and rhyme with each other.
  • The third and fourth lines are two feet and rhyme with each other.

Image Courtesy:

“Hercules & Waggoner2″ By Walter Crane – Baby’s Own Aesop  via

“Edward Lear, Limerick 1″ By Edward Lear – Lear, The Book of Nonsense, London in New York 1888 (Public Domain) via

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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