How to Write a Limerick

Here's an easy guide to how to write a limerick, with examples and prompts. For more writing ideas, be sure to join our free email group.

What's a limerick?

A limerick is a poetic form that can be particularly fun to read and write. Limericks are often humorous, and sometimes mean-spirited or racy.

Limericks consist of five lines. The rhyme scheme is aabba. In other words, Lines One, Two, and Five all rhyme with each other, and Lines Three and Four rhyme with each other (in some limericks, Lines One and Five end with the same word and rhyme with Line Two).

Here's an example of a classic limerick by Edward Lear, where the first and last lines rhyme:

There was a Young Lady whose eyes,
Were unique as to colour and size;
When she opened them wide,
People all turned aside,
And started away in surprise.

Here's another example by Lear, where the first and last lines end with the same word:

There was an Old Person of Dover,
Who rushed through a field of blue Clover;
But some very large bees,
Stung his nose and his knees,
So he very soon went back to Dover.

The typical rhythm of a limerick is like this:

bah-BAH bah-bah-BAH bah-bah-BAH
bah-BAH bah-bah-BAH bah-bah-BAH
bah-BAH bah-bah-BAH
bah-BAH bah-bah-BAH
bah-BAH bah-bah-BAH bah-bah-BAH

How to write a limerick - prompts

Ready to try some limericks of your own? Here are some first lines you can use to get you started if you want.

  • He was an unusual boy

  • There once was a very old dog

  • A beautiful girl in my town

  • There was a young woman whose head

  • Two poets who couldn't agree

How to write a limerick: more ideas

1) Get into the rhythm: Start by reading a limerick out loud several times until you have the rhythm in your head.

2) Think of a punchline: Many limericks end with a twist or punchline, like a joke. It might be easier to write the last line of your poem first. Then you can write the rest of the poem to build towards that final line.

3) Introduce a character: Classic limericks often start with a person, and sometimes a place. For example, "There once was a woman from Spain..."

4) Be playful: Many limericks are funny, silly or surreal—that's part of the tradition. Bonus points if you include a pun!

Try your hand at more types of poems!

Learn how to write...



Acrostic poems


Narrative poems


Blank verse