Paul Clark says he cannot think of any word that doesn't rhyme with orange, but points out that "St Clement's" doesn't rhyme with "lemons". "Offhand," writes Des Waller, "I can think of only one thing that doesn't rhyme with orange, and that is `National Enterprise Council'."
He celebrates the discovery with a modern limerick:
There was an old man named Orange,
Who didn't work for the National Enterprise Council.
He went to bed,
For 48 weeks,
When he woke up he was a borange.
"Obviously," he says, "the last line needs a bit of attention, as it still appears to rhyme."
Stuart Cockerill maintains that "pint" doesn't rhyme with any other fruit, vegetable or fungal inflection (sic). He mentions, helpfully, that "sausage" would rhyme with "mossage" if mossage were a word.
Lance Railton recollects Tom Lehrer's individualistic friend who spelt his name "Hen3ry". He suggests that "Oran6ge" would not rhyme with "orange" if the judiciously inserted numeral were pronounced, which it isn't.
Moving on to specific non-rhymes, Frederick Rowe suggests "Tambourine, philanderin', bedevil, naffer and hugely", but has some doubts about the admissibility of a comparative form of naff.
Eliot Wilson proposes "Squadron, toilet, blanket, land-mine, amputation, Gewrztramminer, newspaper, avenue, politician, hallmark." He is disqualified for misspelling Guwrztraminer, which is, in any case or bottle, a variety of grape.
Elizabeth Danson plummily suggested tornado, but was rapidly overtaken by paroxysms of doubt concerning possible pockets of local dialect in the United States where it may rhyme with potato or even avocado. "The US folk term for the avocado is (or was) `alligator pear', which suggests that a long `a' was once heard in the penultimate syllable." She therefore opts for "woodlouse" as the ultimate non-rhyme for any fruit or veg. Unless "Scouse" is a term for a Liverpudlian vegetable concoction.
Jonathan Hulme believes that the whole topic has identified a gap in the market that could be filled by a semi-modern poet employing near-rhymes and limited scansion. He offers the following example:
There was a greengrocer from Ware,
Whose oranges, apples and pear,
Were deliciously fresh,
And had moist tender flesh,
But his courgettes were, frankly, of indifferent quality.
Stephen Woodward declared a liking for "the idea of words that rhyme with no known fruit or vegetables" and accordingly offers some names for unknown ones, from anchible to zebra chestnut, including brodge, knewt, nardobiggle and underplant. These may be of limited application, however, since none of them rhymes with Gewrztraminer.
As usual with the outstandingly eclectic readership of this column, we have heard from an authority on the topic in question. Pete Scales, a modern poet himself, has eased his task by building up a database of non- rhymes. He provides us with a selection from the fruit & veg section.
ORANGE: okapi, trousers, Billericay.
KUMQUAT: spigot, campanologist, nainsook.
AUBERGINE: kerfuffle, epigastric, Cantona.
PRICKLY PEAR: soffit, plinth, Pont l'Eveque.
Mollie Caird adds "width, lavatory, O'Rourke and Gingrich".
Which bring us conveniently to the topic of why lavatory paper is always the same width. F G Lorriman wrote us such a fascinating, technologically detailed, epistemologically definitive account of the philosophy of toilet tissue that we dozed off before getting to the end of it.
Several readers suggested that lavatory paper is designed to fit either the hand or the cavity between the human buttocks, and wondered whether there was an EC directive standardising hand and cavity size.
Stephen Woodward says that the width of lavatory paper is the mean diameter of a 10-year-old Norwegian spruce. "Originally, Norwegians wiped their bottoms on trees, and when the pulping factories started making toilet paper it seemed the logical width." We shall return to this important topic when space and time permit. Prizes to Elizabeth Danson, Pete Scales and Des Waller.
It is more than 25 years since man landed on the moon and still nobody has thought of anything to do with it. Three Chambers Dictionary of World History prizes will be awarded for the best moon ideas received by 22 March at Creativity, the Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL.Reuse content