A limerick is a humorous poem consisting of five lines. The first, second, and fifth lines must have seven to ten syllables while rhyming and having the same verbal rhythm. The third and fourth lines only have to have five to seven syllables, and have to rhyme with each other and have the same rhythm.
Because he helped bring them to fame, Edward Lear is one of the world's most favorite limerick writers. His limericks often consisted of stories about an old man:
“There was an Old Man with a beard
Who said, 'It is just as I feared!
Two Owls and a Hen,
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!’”
Another of his limericks goes as follows:
“There was a Young Lady of Dorking,
Who bought a large bonnet for walking;
But its colour and size,
So bedazzled her eyes,
That she very soon went back to Dorking.”
Yet another example is:
“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.”
Of course, Edward Lear was not the only writer of limericks. This one was written by Anita V:
“An infatuated man from Dover,
was left by his imaginary lover.
He pulled his hair,
in sheer despair,
forgetting a wig was his cover.”
Another example was written about a Ballerina by Selina Wallis,
“There once was a girl Selina,
who wanted to be a ballerina.
She went on her toes,
and broke her nose.
Then she became cleaner.”
Finally, this limerick is about Fashion and it’s written by Dwarvenkind,
“Can't believe it’s true, must be a ruse.
It seems kids these days actually choose.
It's a very strange fad,
to dress up just like Dad.
Bell-bottom pants and big clunky shoes.”
While you may not have heard of many of the above examples, you likely have heard some of the more commonly known limerick examples in the nursery rhymes we all love so much. Hickory Dickory Dock is an example:
“Hickory, dickory, dock,
The mouse ran up the clock.
The clock struck one,
And down he run,
Hickory, dickory, dock.”
Little Miss Muffet is another famous fairy tale limerick:
“Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.”
Finally, perhaps one of the most famous limericks of all time is Mary had a Little Lamb, which is actually two limericks in one as a 10-line poem:
“Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow.
And everywhere that Mary went,
The lamb was sure to go.
He followed her to school one day,
That was against the rule.
It made the children laugh and play,
To see a lamb at school.”
New limericks are still being written today. For example, the Nickelodeon TV show Spongebob Squarepants featured a limerick that went:
“There was an old man from Peru
Who dreamt he was eating his shoe.
He awoke in a fright
In the middle of the night
And found it was perfectly true.”
Each of these are different examples of limericks that illustrate how entertaining and engaging this type of writing can be. Writing a limerick doesn't have to be hard either. Now that you've seen some examples, give writing your own limerick a try.
Create and save customized word lists. Sign up today and start improving your vocabulary!