Limericks are short poems of five lines having rhyme structure AABBA. It is officially described as a form of 'anapestic trimeter'.

The 'anapest' is a foot of poetic verse consisting of three syllables, the third longer (or accentuated to a greater degree) than the first two: da-da-DA. The word 'anapest' shows it's own metric: anaPEST.

Lines 1, 2 and 5 of a limerick should ideally consist of three anapests each, concluding with an identical or similar phoneme to create the rhyme.

Lines 3 and 4 are shorter, constructed of two anapests each and again rhyming with each other with the overall rhyme structure of AABBA.


The anapest metric must show the following pattern:

(da) da DA da da DA da da DA (da) (da)

(da) da DA da da DA da da DA (da) (da)

(da) da DA da da DA (da)

(da) da DA da da DA (da)

(da) da DA da da DA da da DA (da) (da)

Meaning that you can leave off the syllables in parentheses.

But 1, 2 and 5 should match each other, and 3 and 4 should match.


there ONCE was a GIRL from nanTUCKet --- leaves off the final 'da'

the LIMerick packs LAUGHS anaTOmical --- uses all of them


A good example of a limerick:

The limerick packs laughs anatomical

Into space that is quite economical.

But the good ones I've seen

Hardly ever are clean

And the clean ones so seldom are comical.


Two more examples with anapests and rhyme highlighted:

There was an young man of Darjeeling

Endowed with such delicate feeling.

When he read on the door

"Do not spit on the floor",

He jumped up and then spat on the ceiling!


It's been told an old man had sent Emails,

To some various dubious females,

He was asked what they said,

But he just shook his head.

I would rather not go into details.