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When mired in a problem's confusion,nious to find a solution.
heed not to the boundary illusion.
So when rhyming with orange,
one has to be more inge-
—Daniel F. Wallace
When some person is expected to rhyme a word that has no rhyme in the dictionary. (Orange is the word most commonly used for this; other allegedly unrhymable words in English include silver, purple, month, bulb, circle and film.)
This often is the consequence of them rhyming everything said by another character, who tries to stump them with something unrhymable. There are three conceivable outcomes:
- The person thinks for a moment, shrugs and gives up.
- The person thinks for a long while, then comes up with an amazing trick rhyme.
- The person cheats and uses a word that doesn't rhyme but is funny.
Incidentally, many of these words do have rhymes, even without resorting to midword rhyme, slant rhyme, or a non-standard pronunciation for the speaker's normal accent. These are usually very obscure (silver and chilver, a female lamb) or non-English (month and granth, Hindi for book, also a Sikh holy text). That's Quite Interesting, isn't it?
- Etrigan came up with two rhymes for "orange": "door hinge" and "whore binge". This is why we like him.
- A story in the Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi comic book had Ami attempting to write a song with a rhyme for "orange". Just when she succeeded in finding one ("door hinge"), she got stuck again with "silver".
- The last comic in Buster had this happen to Watford Gapp:
Watford Gapp: I lent Fuss Pot a fiver,
'Cos I like to oblige,
But when I asked her for it back,
She said that she's...er...um...
Caption: Well, reader... can you think of a rhyme for "oblige"???
- This commercial for M&M's with Megan Mullally, in which she rhymes something with every color M&M, but then gets stuck on "orange."
- "I'm Ridin' For A Fall" from Thank Your Lucky Stars:
Oh yes, I know, she'll be spending my sugar.
I know, she'll be spending my sugar.
I know, she'll be spending my sugar.
But oh--you can't rhyme sugar!
- From The Muppets:
Life's a piece of pie/With someone to stir and someone to fry
Life's a bunch of flowers/With someone to while away the hours
Life's a fillet of fish/, uhhhh... Yes it is!
- Wayside School Gets A Little Stranger: One of the students chooses to write a poem about purple without immediately realizing the implications. After much despair, she manages to rhyme it with "burp'll." It is arguably the most inspiring rhyme in the class, as other students either became lost among endless easy options, cheated, or abandoned rhyming altogether.
- In The Mystery of Errors, a novel in which a young William Shakespeare and friend get jobs at the Globe Theatre and solve a murder, his friend challenges Shakespeare to rhyme orange. Shakespeare came up with "door hinge" immediately, but his friend is skeptical.
"What kind of rhyme is that?"
- In one of The Zack Files books, Zack got "rhyme disease" and could only speak in rhyme. His doctor suggested having him say "orange" to see what would happen, but no sound came out of his mouth.
- Arthur Guiterman managed to defeat this trope on a technicality.
In Sparkill buried lies that man of mark
Who brought the Obelisk to Central Park,
Redoubtable Commander H.H. Gorringe,
Whose name supplies the long-sought rhyme for "orange."
- The poem W by James Reeves:
The King sent for his wise men all
To find a rhyme for W.
When they had thought a good long time,
But could not think of a single rhyme,
"I'm sorry," said he, "to trouble you."
- Mr Bean's Diary, an authorised spin-off publication of Mr. Bean, has one sequence where he joins a poetry class and attempts to find a rhyme for "orange", considering "blancmange", "Stonehenge", and finally "lozenge".
- In Automated Alice, the Author Avatar Zenith O'Clock is happy to make up his own "frictional" words to make his poems rhyme:
Nothing can rhyme with an orange
The people cry in ignorance:
Forgetting in their ignorange
That words can be made to dance.
- Ogden Nash:
There are no rhymes for orange or silver,
Unless liberties you pilfer.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events: Nobody can make a couplet about Count Olaf without insulting both pilaf (for comparing it to the despicable Olaf) and the English language (for attempting to use such a half-rhyme).
- In The Sot Weed Factor, the poet protagonist and a friend have a rhyming contest at one point and the protagonist triumphantly does a short verse ending in month. Then, his friend does one ending in an obscure word, onth.
- The board book But Not The Hippopotamus by Sandra Boynton is all about this trope.
- In Asimov's Black Widowers series, one character tries to summarise The Iliad as a series of limericks, but grinds to a halt over the difficulty of rhyming Diomedes.
- Rhyming the unrhymeable: Ove Michaelsen has written a two-part limerick based on rhymes for orange, purple, and silver.
- In Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell Jonathan Strange's attempts to become a poet stalled when he had trouble with a rhyme for "let love suffice". In this case it wasn't that no rhymes existed, but that he couldn't find any that were remotely suitable. After coming up with "sunk in vice" (hardly appropriate) "a pair of mice" (nonsense) and "what's the price?" (simply vulgar) he went for a ride, and apparently forgot about the whole business.
- Vladimir Mayakovsky, an unorthodox late Imperial Russian turned Soviet poet, was known among other things for bold and untried, if imprecise, rhymes in the Russian language. He often deliberately put the most expressive word at the end, even if it was usually considered unrhymable, and came up with a rhyme for it, come fire or water.
- Randall Garrett tackled three, all of which rhyme better than "door hinge":
I ate a poisoned orange;
Now I lie upon my bed.
I keep seeing more and more ang-
elic forms around my head.
Though my hair has turned to silver,
I have never, ever lied,
And old age finds me still ver-
Of all the English words there are,
There is no rhyme for month.
I tried and failed a hundred times!
I succeeded the hundred and oneth.
- Drake and Josh uses the "orange"/"door hinge" rhyme.
- In the H.R. Pufnstuf episode "Show Biz Witch", Witchiepoo sings a sings a song in which most of the rhymes are made-up words like "schmoranges".
- In this scene from Wings, Brian tries to win Alex back by improvising a song over the terminal microphone. His plan hits a snag when he realizes "nothing rhymes with Alex." Nevertheless, he gets a round of applause at the end (but doesn't win her back).
- The Golden Girls: Rose and Dorothy are trying to write a song about Miami for a contest and Rose criticizes Dorothy's lyrics.
Dorothy: Fine! You find something to rhyme with Miami, hotshot!
Rose: Mammy! Whammy, clammy, Alabamy, hootenanny, salami...
Dorothy: "Hootenanny" is marginal, and I refuse to accept "salami"!
- QI had an episode with the question "What rhymes with purple?". Alan Davies blurted out random -urple words and ended up getting both right at some point in his rant.
- The correct answers were, by the way, herple and kerple. Herple meaning to hobble along on one leg, and kerple being the part of a saddle that goes along the horse's stomach.
- They've also asked about orange, providing two answers which are both proper nouns: Blorenge (a town in Wales) and Gorringe (a surname). Rich Hall has also suggested door hinge.
- 3rd Rock from the Sun: Sally, Tom, and Harry write an inspiring anti-racism poem. Even though the word "racism" is used before a stanza, they make unneeded attempts to replace it with other words in following stanzas, such as "Play Station" and "Claymation".
- In Emma's Birthday episode on Friends, Phoebe tries to sing a song as her gift.
Your name poses a dilemma,
'Cause not much else rhymes with Emma
Maybe the actor Richard Crenna
(he played the commanding officer in Rambo)
Happy birthday Emma!
- And in Season 4 with Phoebe's Holiday Song:
Phoebe: (singing) Happy Chanukah, Monica! May your Christmas be snowy, Joey! Happy New Year, Chandler and Ross. Spin the dreidel, Rachel!
Rachel: Rachel doesn't rhyme with dreidel.
Phoebe: Nothing rhymes with your stupid name!
Joey: Lots of things rhyme with Rachel. Bagel. Mail. Jail. Bail. Able. May-pole.
Chandler: All good.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the human William the Bloody (so named for his bloody awful poetry) had a very hard time coming up with a rhyme for effulgent, praising Cecily who was possibly -- the experts disagree -- actually the vengeance demon Halfrek. The best he could do was bulge in't. Incredibly and ironically enough, the only character known to have liked William's, later Spike's, poetry was Angel. (Which, since Angel also likes Barry Manilow, Spike takes as an insult.)
- From the U.S. version of Whose Line Is It Anyway, the "Knocked Over the Christmas Tree" Irish Drinking Song.
Ryan Stiles: (singing) I put the fire out myself.
Brad Sherwood: (singing) With a fire extinguisher.
Wayne Brady: (singing) Then I thought I was finished.
Colin Mochrie: (singing) Ding-da-ding-da-dingisher.
- Young Blades: When writing a poem about "The" D'Artagnan's exploits, Ramon struggles to find a rhyme for "Constantinople." Rejected ideas: "hope will," "mopeful," and "pope toll."
- series/HorribleHistories sometimes has to find rhymes for words such as "Elagabalus" and "Paleolithic".
- Games Magazine published a series of columns in which a linguist successively attempted to rhyme orange, silver and purple. The words he found included chilver (a female lamb) and hirple (to walk with a limp).
- Worm Quartet has a song about this, "Great Idea for a Song," in which a disgruntled songwriter laments the fact that his ex-girl's name doesn't rhyme with any good insults.
Oh, if only your name rhymed with "sadistic lying bitch,"
I'd have a great idea for a song.
- Tom Lehrer worked his way around this:
Eating an orange
While making love
Makes for bizarre enj-
- Barenaked Ladies took their own stab at rhyming "orange" in the song "Four Seconds".
Oh flip, the light is turning orange
Coat ripped when I caught it in the door hinge
I slip when the lady in the four-inch
Bought it in a store in Germany, you wore it...
- The Capitol Steps had a song, to Billy Joel's "The Longest Time," in which they lament how "Boris Yeltsin is the hardest rhyme." They explain that they can rhyme "Gorbachev" ("pay our office mortgage off"), "Leningrad" ("pen and pad"), and "Chernenko" ("pinko," appropriately), among others, but Yeltsin gives them trouble. Finally, they decide to give up:
We can't rhyme Yeltsin
So we'll have to pull our belts in
Do something else-in-stead of finding rhymes.
- More recently, in their John Boehner version of "Loonies of the Right" ("Music of the Night" from Phantom of the Opera),
"My appeal is that I look quite orange"
"I just realized that nothing rhymes with 'orange'."
- The Bloodhound Gang song "Three Point One Four":
It's hard to rhyme a
Word like "vagina"
Kevin Kline, kinda
- The song is preceded by a spoken word piece in which the singer calls his mother and asks for her help finding words to fit the rhyme. She offers "lima", but suggests he use a different word.
- Rich Hall (in character as country singer Otis Lee Crenshaw):
Now the mountain trees are rustling and the sun is sinking orange
And I'd like to make a rhyme right now but I've painted myself into a corner
- Roger Miller in "Dang Me":
They say roses are red, violets are purple
Sugar's sweet, so's maple syr'ple.
- The bonus track on Relient K's album Two Lefts Don't Make a Right introduces "the worst freestyle rapper ever":
Apples are green and carrots are orange
And then they go and then you go
What nothing, what oh what rhymes with orange?
Oh geez, I really am bad.
- The Flaming Lips sort of manage to work an "orange" rhyme into "She Don't Use Jelly" by dropping a syllable:
But she don't use nothin' that you buy at the store
She likes her hair to be real or'nge
- In "Staight Razor Cabaret" by Voltaire, "straight razor" is paired with "face raper." His Youtube page reveals that this is because it was the only thing he could think of that rhymed... and basically said, "Oh, well." when it was pointed out to him that it doesn't rhyme at all.
- In the final episode of the first series of Mitch Benn's Crimes Against Music, he and Richard Stilgoe are having a satirical song contest; when Stilgoe challenges Benn to continue the song "I went to the supermarket and there I bought an orange", Mitch melts. But he later comes back:
Everybody knows ain't nothing rhymes with orange
Doesn't matter how much imagination or ing-
enuity you use, even words that are foreign j-
ust better let it go, ain't nothing rhymes with orange
- This is the same Mitch Benn who found a rhyme for 'iambic pentameter'. ("Using my skills and my talents with grammar ta/ Kick yo' ass in iambic pentameter")
- Episode three of the Big Finish Doctor Who drama "Doctor Who and the Pirates" is done in the style of a Gilbert and Sullivan homage. The Doctor references the Major-General's song above with "I Am The Very Model of a Gallifreyan Buccaneer", using the phrases "Rassilonian legatee" and "Remember me to Gallifrey" (pronounced here as "Gal-i-free").
- Hello Cheeky did one or two comedy songs every episode. One of them, I've Fallen For A Girl Called Agnes, has no steady rhythm as the singer can't think of a rhyme for Agnes.
I've fallen for a girl called Agnes
And nothing rhymes with that
And so I'll sing my song of love the best way that I can
Each time I see beloved Agnes
Birds sing in my heart, and in my bathroom as well
I think they get in through a hole in the roof
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, "A Little Priest":
Mrs. Lovett: We've got tinker...
Todd: No, no, something pinker.
Mrs. Lovett: Tailor?
Mrs. Lovett: Butler?
Mrs. Lovett: Potter?
Mrs. Lovett: Locksmith?
- The List Song "A Rhyme For Angela" from The Firebrand Of Florence.
- The song "Popular" from Wicked has Galinda getting her rhyme scheme interrupted, and improvises by pronouncing it as "Popu... lar?" (as in are).
- Infamous in "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General" from The Pirates of Penzance:
Major-General Stanley [singing]: In short, when I've a smattering of elemental strategy...[spoken] Strategy, hm, that's a tough one...Ah! [resumes singing] You'll say a better Major-General has never sat a gee!
- Since the stage directions only say "the Major-General struggles for a rhyme" between each verse, directors have had a lot of fun with this. Commonly the cast stops for a bit to think, and at least one show had the conductor shout out the line.
- In The Complete History of America (abridged), a protest chant parodying "Green Eggs and Ham" suddenly grinds to a halt due to the impossibility of rhyming "Agent Orange."
- The Curse of Monkey Island: Guybrush is trying to get his crew of pirates to stop singing, but they keep finding ways to rhyme with what he says. Then he hits them with this:
Guybrush: We'll surely avoid scurvy if we all eat an orange.
Haggis: And...! ...um...
Bill: Door hinge?
Edward: No, no...
Bill: Guess the song's over, then.
Haggis: Guess so.
Edward: Okay, back to work.
Guybrush: Well, gee. I feel a little guilty, now.
- The Nostalgia Critic, as he bursts in a Mary Poppins parody at the end of his Batman and Robin review:
A film so bad that censors really oughta go and pull it.
Sadly there's not many words that only rhyme with bullshit...
- He gets stuck on "oranges" when he tries to rap along with Bebe's Kids.
- On the Limerick DB (essentially a clone of bash.org, for limericks), one of the top 150 limericks is this:
There once was a small juicy orange,
- In this strip of Penny Arcade, Tycho is trying to tell Gabe about some gaming-news or other, but Gabe keeps replying with "Chicken -rhyme-". Of course, he's a fool to challenge Tycho's expansive vocabulary, and sure enough, Tycho proceeds to state "I might even... acquiesce'." Causing Gabe to collapse convulsing as his brain attempts the impossible task of rhyming with it...
- In Ozy and Millie, Llewellyn invents the "authentic Llewellyn-brand borange" just so that orange will have a rhyme. He's a bit unclear about what exactly it does.
- In Sheldon, Arthur uses it as a cure for a strange disease that makes people talk in rhymes. Blunt like that.
- In page 238 of the webcomic The Order of the Stick, Elan's attempt to persuade the inn patrons in the eatery via bard song which consisted entirely of rhymes. Elan combines the word "grass'n" to create a rhyme for assassin -- something noted by the author, who titled that page "You Try Rhyming 'Assassin'". In addition, he also paused briefly in the middle of the next stanza when trying to think of a word that rhymes with "wooden", in a sentence which implies a promise that his group would do for the patrons if they complied with his request to leave the inn.
- In a guest Captain SNES comic, Alex has run into a narrator-slash-censor forcing everyone to rhyme. He remarks, "Orange is too cliche... how about film?" The narrator then reveals its looseness with rhymes: "Might I suggest you try out 'Dark Realm'?"
- In one strip of Lackadaisy Cats, Ivy is chewing out a bedridden Viktor for scaring off her previous boyfriends. He tries to justify it by saying that Chad was "Bad," Claude was "Flawed," and Cecil...
Ivy: Oh, don't bother answering that. Nothing rhymes with Cecil anyway.
Viktor: Terrible name. And also he vas no good.
- Barbie and the Diamond Castle: Lounge Lizard twins Jeremy and Ian are alternating lyrics in a song to charm the heroines. At one point Jeremy ends a line with the word "orange," and Ian quips, "You know perfectly well nothing rhymes with orange."
- Phineas and Ferb:
- In the episode "Does This Duckbill Make Me Look Fat?" Doofenschmirtz tries to write his own evil jingle to replace a fast food Ear Worm, but can't come up with any good rhymes for evil:
"Believe me, I've tried. Keevil, deevil, feevil...you know, none of these are words."
Doof-2: Yeah I'm cranking up the evil
Cause political upheaval
Yeah I'm gonna get medieval on you!
- There's a first-season episode of Drawn Together that has Foxy give the cast a "sex ed" talk as if she were a Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher and the rest of the cast (obligingly) act like kindergarteners. She rhymes the various parts of the reproductive anatomy, until she gets to vagina, calling it a "gigi" which in her words "rhymes with puppy... but not very well."
- In the Danny Phantom Christmas Episode ("The Fright Before Christmas"), the villain Ghost Writer's magical keyboard forces everyone to speak in rhyme as he "narrates" the episode as a Christmas poem. Danny is partially able to break his powers by forcing him to mention an orange in the poem, and to rhyme "orange" with "orange". The episode, by the way, ends with Walker taunting Ghost Writer (now safely imprisoned in Ghost Jail) by offering him an orange.
- The Canadian cartoon Whats With Andy? found Andy in a bet with his sister that he could keep rhyming for 24 hours. He manages it until a crucial moment when his sister uses the word "orange". At first it looks like he's stumped, until he see a "door hinge" and pulls through.
- "Zawias" is Polish for "door hinge", so the Polish dub replaced "orange" with "nawias" (which means "bracket"), a similarly difficult word to rhyme.
- The Futurama episode "Fry and the Slurm Factory" parodies the Oompa Loompa song, exaggerating their use of meaningless made-up words to fill in rhymes:
Grunka Lunkas: Grunka Lunka dunkity dingredient,
you should not ask about the secret ingredient.
Bender: Ok, ok. We get the point.
Leela: I was just curious because of the armed guards.
Grunka Lunkas: Grunka Lunka dunkity darmedguards...
Bender: Shut the hell up!
- From The Simpsons: In a particular episode, Homer is watching a 'Miss America' pageant on TV and shouting out rhymes for the states, until one stumps him. "Miss South Carolina!" "Nothing could be finer!" "Miss Delaware!" "Uh, um, uh... Good for her!"
- Referenced by Animaniacs in a "Dot's Poetry Corner" skit, where she's riffing on "Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue" and how "violets are violet, violets aren't blue!" She ends with:
When we call something blue when it's not, we defile it.
But aw, what the heck, it's hard to rhyme 'violet'!
- In one episode of Arthur, Binky has a dream where everyone speaks in rhyme. They are threatened by a monstrous "purple orange". It is even lampshaded at one point that it "has no rhyme".