Rhyming Dictionaries

Disclaimer: I don’t have any cuts or any songs recorded, these are just my views and my tips on the different aspects of Songwriting


When you have run through all the possible rhymes that you can think of and you still can’t get something to fit, other than a rewrite of the other line, you should look at a Rhyming Dictionary.  In printed form there are two types of Rhyming Dictionaries you can purchase.

Forward look up

To use these dictionaries you look up the full word, or if you can’t find the actual word, a similar sounding word.  I have one of these called “Essential Songwriter’s Rhyming Dictionary” published by Alfred.

If I were to look up a rhyme for the word “Trombone”, that word isn’t in the dictionary.  I would look up a similar sounding work, ‘bone’.  The entry for ‘bone’ says ‘see known’.  Looking up ‘known’ I get 45 different rhymes.

Reverse look up

This sort of dictionary as the name suggests is the reverse of the Forward look up being that you look at the end of the word.  A prime example of this is Sammy Cahn’s ‘The Songwriter’s Rhyming Dictionary’.  (Note, this book is worth it just for the introduction by Sammy, it’s a wonderful read!)  Using the same example above, “Trombone”, in this sort of dictionary I would be looking at the last ‘sound’ .. an ‘o’ sound… or as it’s described in the book an ‘oh’ sound.  I then get to the ‘oan’ sound.  I find 1 syllable rhymes-24, 2 syllable-22, 3 syllable-15 (61 total).  Some are alternate spellings of words, but you still get a number of usable rhymes.

Online Rhyming Dictionaries

These, even though you don’t see it, use both Forward and Reverse look ups of Rhymes to find Rhymes for you.  If you have a look at the Rhyming Dictionary entry on Wikipedia, there are (at the time of wiring this) 6 links to online rhyming dictionaries.  The online dictionaries usually provide a larger number of rhymes ordered by syllable count (see my other songwriting page on counting syllables).


Some writers will say why use a rhyming dictionary cause if you can’t think of a rhyme then it shouldn’t be there… or in some cases could be obscure and change the way you are writing.  I on the other hand think they are a good little reference which can jog your memory.  Either way, if you do choose to use a rhyming dictionary, lean how to use it so you can get to the rhyme you want to find as quick as possible (or put a blank in where you are writing and come back to it later with the dictionary).

Check out my other pages ‘On Songwriting’

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