Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds to create internal rhyming within phrases or sentences, and together with alliteration and consonance[1] serves as one of the building blocks of verse. Assonance does not have to be a rhyme; the identity of which depends merely on sequence of both vowel and consonant sounds.

Assonance occurs more often in verse than in prose. It is used in (mainly modern) English-language poetry, and is particularly important in Old French, Spanish and the Celtic languages.[2]


English poetry is rich with examples of assonance:

That solitude which suits abstruser musings
on a proud round cloud in white high night
E. E. Cummings, if a cheerfulest Elephantangelchild should sit

It also occurs in prose:

Soft language issued from their spitless lips as they swished in low circles round and round the field, winding hither and thither through the weeds.

English-language hip hop relies on assonance, which is sometimes hard to distinguish from slant rhyme:

Some vodka that'll jumpstart my heart quicker than a shock when I get shocked at the hospital by the doctor when I'm not cooperating...
Dead in the middle of little Italy little did we know that we riddled some middleman who didn't do diddly.
Big Pun, Twinz

It is also heard in other forms of popular music:

I must confess that in my quest I felt depressed and restless
Thin Lizzy, "With Love"
Dot my I's with eyebrow pencils, close my eyelids, hide my eyes. I'll be idle in my ideals. Think of nothing else but I
Keaton Henson, "Small Hands"

Assonance is common in proverbs, such as:

The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
The early bird catches the worm.

These proverbs can be a form of short poetry, as in the following Oromo proverb, which describes someone with a big reputation among those who do not know them well:

kan mana baala, aʔlaa gaala (A leaf at home, but a camel elsewhere)

Note the complete assonance in this Amharic proverb:

yälämmänä mänämmänä (The one who begs fades away)


  1. Khurana, Ajeet "Assonance and Consonance" Outstanding Writing
  2. A concise, tongue in cheek summing up of assonance is given by Rita, the eponymous character of Educating Rita, i.e. assonance is getting the rhyme wrong.

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