Unlocking Assonance: The Power of the Vowel

Often called “vowel rhyme,” assonance can be a fun literary device to use. Assonance repeats vowel sounds in order to create lyrical or rhythmic sound in a piece of writing. Frequently confused with alliteration and consonance, the three literary devices are used to create similar effects with sometimes interesting results.

What is Assonance?

Often referred to as “vowel rhyme” (Ex: No pain, no gain.), assonance is a literary device that involves the repetition of vowel sounds in a sentence or phrase. It intentionally repeats vowel sounds without the intentional repetition of consonants. Assonance is most commonly found in poetry and uses the repetition of vowels near or close to each other in non-rhyming syllables to create an echo of the vowel sound. Unlike consonance, assonance often creates a pleasing, lyrical effect in poetry. It can also create rhythm and contribute to mood or atmosphere.

How to pronounce Assonance?

Assonance is pronounced “as-uh-nuhns” from the Latin “assonare” meaning to “respond to.”

When do writers use Assonance?

Opposite of consonance and not to be confused with alliteration, assonance, not to be adds a musical quality to writing. Just one reason to enjoy using assonance, it can also create rhythm and rhyme is a poem. Generally, there are four main reasons writers use assonance in their writing.

  1. Rhythm – Like many other literary devices, assonance creates rhythm. It is unique in that it creates rhythm without being overbearing. For this and other reasons, it is popular in song lyrics, but particularly Hip-Hop.
  2. Mood – Just like consonance, assonance can contribute to mood through sound. In fact, sound has been found to have a psychological effect on the reader. A double “o” sound can create a spooky or scary mood while an “e” sound may come off as screeching, causing anxiety. Example: “The squeaky wheel needs grease.”
  3. Emphasis – Repeating sounds can draw attention to significant or crucial words in a text and alert the reader that there is more to the meaning of the words.
  4. Poetic Prose – While most commonly found in poetry, assonance is used in other types of writing as well. Sporadic rhythm and musicality in writing creates memorable phrases and attention-grabbing lines which works to keep the reader engaged.

Assonance in Children’s Literature and Song 🧸

As with most any literary device applied to children’s literature, the effect is often fun and lyrical. This most notable in the popular childrens’ song, “Row, Row, Your Boat” in the popular tune:

“Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream”

And turning to nursery rhymes and stories:

“I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam I Am.” – Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall” – “Humpty Dumpty,”  by Lewis Carroll

“Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon” – “Hey Diddle DiddleMother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes

“Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet, eating her curds and whey” – “Little Miss Muffet,” r. Thomas Muffet in Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes

Assonance in Song 🎧

As noted earlier, assonance is popular in song and Hip-Hop lyrics. While the list is long, here are a few examples from mixed genres. OF course, we couldn’t resist including Eminem,

“He’s choking. How? Everybody’s joking now” – “Lose Yourself,” Eminem

“Come on baby, light my fire” – “Light My Fire,” The Doors

“Flash with a rash gimme my cash flickin’ my ash” – “Gimme Some More,” Busta Rhymes

“And in air the fireflies, our only light in paradise” – “If Everyone Cared,” Nickelback

Assonance in Literature and Poetry ✍🏽

While most commonly used in poetry, assonance is found in other writing as well. As with most literary devices, Shakespeare was a master at using assonance and many examples can be found in his play as well as his poetry. While his work is included in our list of examples, we’ve tried to provide a diverse sampling.

Because we could not resist:

“O Romeo, Romeo, wherfore art thou Romeo?” – Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare

Now that Shakepeare’s covered, on to our other examples.

“Do No Go Gentle into That Good Night,” Dylan Thomas –

“Do not go gentle into that good night

Old age should burn and rave at close of day

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Bells,” Edgar Allen Poe –

“Hear the mellow wedding bells,

Golden bells!

What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!”

Daddy,” Slyvia Plath –

“Bit my pretty red heart in two.

I was ten when they buried you

At twenty, I tried to die…”

Assonance in Advertising 📺

There is a considerably large amount of assonance examples in marketing and campaign slogans. And why wouldn’t there be? Assonance creates lyrical, catchy slogans that are pleasing to the ear and easy for the consumer to remember. Here’s a list of some of the most well-known.

  • “Easy, breezy, beautiful, Cover Girl” – Cover Girl cosmetics
  • “Melts in your mouth, not in your hands” – M&Ms
  • “Finger-licki’ good” – KFC
  • “Good to the last drop” – Maxwell House coffee

Often Confused With . . . 👥

  • Alliteration – The repetition of like or similar sounds, not necessarily either a vowel or a consonant. Alliteration often creates interesting effects such as tongue twisters. The sounds are typically repeated at the beginning of a word or syllable. Example: She sells seashells by the sea.
  • Consonance – The opposite of assonance. Consonance is the intentional repetition of consonant sounds near or close to each other. Like assonance and alliteration, consonance can create rhythm and rhyme in a poem or piece of writing. Example: Touch the beach with a peach.