Definition of Limerick, features and famous examples


This is a short poem of five lines only, the one generally written in anapestic meters, with occasional variations. The theme is usually comical or humorous, while the technique has a striking order.

This generally consists of the three (first, second and fifth) lines of trimeter and the remaining two lines (third and fourth) of diameter. Such verses are light and popular, although often appear absurd and nonsensical in sense.

The first, second and fifth lines are longer than the third and fourth lines. The rhyming pattern is AABBA.

The standard form of the limerick is a stanza of five lines, with the first, second and fifth rhyming with one another and having three feet of three syllables each; and the shorter third and fourth lines also rhyming with each other, but having only two feet of three syllables.

The first line traditionally introduces a person and a place, with the place appearing at the end of the first line and establishing the rhyme scheme for the second and fifth lines.

The limerick form was popularized by Edward Lear in his first Book of Nonsense (1846) and later work, More Nonsense, Pictures, Rhymes, Botany, etc. (1872). Lear wrote 212 limericks.


1. There was a young lady of Lynn,
Who was so uncommonly thin
That when she essayed
To drink lemonade
She slipped through the straw and fell in.

Here we see the first, second and fifth line( lynn, thin and in) rime with each other and the third and fourth(essayed and lemonade) rime with each other.

2. There was an old man with a beard,
A funny old man with a beard
He had a big beard
A great big old beard
That amusing old man with a beard

3. THERE was a small boy of Quebec,
Who was buried in snow to his neck;
When they said. “Are you friz?”
He replied, “Yes, I is—
But we don’t call this cold in Quebec.” (There was a small boy of Quebec by Rudyard Kipling)

Also read: Discuss Couplet, Triplet and Quatrain

Also read; Definition of Zeugma and its examples