When mired in a problem's confusion, heed not to the boundary illusion. So when rhyming with orange, one has to be more inge- nious to find a solution.
— 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, circlenote Fans of Family Matters might notice a potential rhyme between circle and a certain well-known character from that show 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.
Often, if they manage to make a rhyme, it will be an Ogden Nash-style Painful Rhyme, perhaps even a Mid Word Rhyme. Usually if the word is "orange", the rhyme will be "door hinge"; how well that works depends on your accent.
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?
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Etrigan came up with two rhymes for "orange": "door hinge" and "whore binge". This is why we like him.
Minstrel in Groo The Wanderer sings all of his dialogue in rhyme (which writer Mark Evanier admits is a real pain), In one issue Groo becomes annoyed with Minstrel after acquiring magic powers and wishes that he'd stop rhyming. Minstrel knows the wish has worked when he tries to sing a tribute to a man dressed in orange and can't think of a rhyme for it.
One Urbanus-comic had a man obsessed with rhyming having to come up with a rhyme word for "Herfst" (The Dutch/Flemish word for "Autumn"). He fails, and which makes him so mad he breaks the walls of the prison he is in.
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."
But many times, we're given rhymes which are quite unsingable
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?" "Perfectly acceptable."
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 authorized 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".
I mean, horrors Count Olaf Is no laugh- ing matter...
In the whole of The soul of Count Olaf There's no love...
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 & 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.
An anonymous collective of Imperial Russian satirical poets known under the collective pen name Kozma Prutkov did play with this in their poem Military Aphorisms. In Russian, the word "Europe" (Yevropa) is considered the least rhymable; there is only one word that rhymes with it, and it is semi-obscene with the meaning of "buttocks". The poem uses the word for "Europe", than plays the audience's expectations of the butt-word, and changes it last second to "shlyapa" (hat) (with the obvious inkling that they really mean butt).
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.
In Jack L. Chalker's Vengeance of the Dancing Gods, there's a magical oracle who can only speak in rhyme. He keeps a guy called Porange Chilver around as insurance, in the case he accidentally ends a sentence with "orange" or "silver."
Halo: Evolutions: In the short story Human Weakness, the Gravemind brags how can speak in perfect trochaic heptameter and form complex poems thanks to having absorbed the minds of poets. Cortana snarks that she won't be waiting for him to find a rhyme for orange, but the Gravemind merely responds "Orange, in what language? I have consumed so many."
A Scottish Nursery Rhyme from Jacobite days manages to find an unlikely rhyme by invoking the supporters of William of Orange:
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".
Oranges, toranges — who says?
Oranges, loranges — who says?
Oranges, smoranges — who says there ain't no rhyme for oranges?
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!
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, hirple and curple. Hirple meaning to hobble along on one leg, and curple 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.
In the first series they covered "silver", giving chilver, a ewe lamb.
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 "Playstation" and "Claymation".
In Emma's Birthday episode on Friends, Phoebe tries to sing a song as her gift.
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.)
Wayne Brady:(singing) Then I thought I was finished.
Colin Mochrie:(singing) Ding-da-ding-da-dingisher.
And from the UK series, when the audience shouts out various subjects Josie Lawrence could improvise a song about, Clive Anderson chooses secateurs "for the rhyming possibilities". She glares at him, and proceeds to rhyme it with "sick of tears".
And in a Crowning Moment Of Awesome for Brad Sherwood, he comes up with a love ballad for a college student named Niroshi, with rhymes like "briochee", "Rive Gochee" and "Pacific Oce-ee".
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."
Horrible Histories sometimes has to find rhymes for words such as "Elagabalus" and "Paleolithic".
On the Pyramid game show series, Dick Clark would occasionally pull "Words that rhyme with 'orange'" as a joke category.
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,"
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:
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 Lipssort 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.
The Steve Miller Band does this kind of scheme at one point in "Take the Money and Run":
Billy Mack is a detective down in Texas You know he knows just exactly what the facts is He ain't gonna let those two escape justice He makes his livin' off of the people's taxes
The extremely sarcastic (and deliberately offensive) song "Let's Go Bomb an Abortion Clinic" has a tough time, since "cynic" is just about the only English word that rhymes with "clinic."
Let's go bomb an abortion clinic,
Make the world once more Huckleberry Finn-ic
... While they're still inside with their next-of-kin-ic
... We'll keep them from committing a mortal sin — ick!
I wake up in the morning and take big pharma' lozenges,
Swallowing the juice of Israeli blood oranges
An obscure They Might Be Giants spoken word piece called "Trucker's Coffee" rhymes "orange" and "door hinge".
Bodo Wartke, a german singer and songwriter, wrote the song "Da muss er durch", where he tries to rhyme the german word "durch" without resorting to the one, obvious solution "Lurch". In the end he is forced to fall back on "Lurch" but not without many attempts to find a proper alternative.
The song 9 Coronas, a parody of My Sharona features the line:
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
In one episode of Just a Minute, Stephen Fry says that he like words that don't rhyme with others, listing "silver" and "orange". Paul Merton challenges and suggests "door hinge" as a rhyme for orange. In another episode, Sue Perkins says that nothing rhymes with the word "month", which is followed by this exchange:
Marcus Brigstocke: That's not technically true. My brother has a lisp and he doesn't like the people he works with...
In the Cabin Pressure episode "Limerick", while making up a limerick to pass time on a long cargo flight, Douglas chooses to mention the British town of Stroud rather than their actual location over the Russian town of Vyshny Volochyok on the basis that he cannot make the latter rhyme or scan. Arthur takes this as a challenge and comes up with three rhymes: "fish-free oboe check", "drizzly, solo trek" and "miss my polo neck." Douglas is not impressed.
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!note This is not, as people sometimes think, a nonsense phrase. It means "to have ridden a horse". Later he actually does say "rode a horse" when repeating the verse.
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.
More than that, since we are now several decades beyond the point where audiences could be expected to know what "sat a gee" means and the Maj-Gen does not, in the original, say "rode a horse" at any point. So he may now, for example, think for a bit, then just give up and declare "...rode a horse!", inspiring one of his daughters to run across and stage-whisper "sat a gee" in his ear; only then does he sing it.
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: Well... Edward: ...err... 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.
In Pony Fantasy VI, Zecora's Famous Last Words result in her about to rhyme something with the word "orange." "Fortunately," Discord kills her before she can finish.
Minty Fresh Adventure pulls something similar with Zecora: one of the bonus scenes between Colgate and Zecora (which can seen if Colgate knocks on Zecora's door enough times) has Colgate trick Zecora into ending a line with the word "orange", which majorly pisses off Zecora.
In one banter dialogue in Baldurs Gate 2, gnomish trickster Jan Jansen mentions to the bard Haer'Dalis that he's trying to write some poetry and needs some help. Specifically, he needs rhymes for orange, silver and purple. Haer'Dalis does not fall for it.
Iiit's...Supercrapafuckarifficexpialibullshit! 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,
Lampshaded in one episode of The Annoying Orange where a banana mentions there are no words that rhyme with banana. Orange doesn't think so, though.
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 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.
Barbie & 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."
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 PhantomChristmas 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 What's 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.
From The Simpsons: In "A Streetcar Named Marge", 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!"
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".
In the My Little Pony Tales episode "Battle Of The Bands", Melody is writing a song and claims she is stuck because she can't find a word that rhymes with orange. Her mom says it's because there is none, and as soon as Melody wonders if it's true, her siblings call her to see something on TV.