A limerick (is):
  1. is five lines long,
  2. is based on the rhythm “da-da-DAH” (anapest meter)
  3. has two different rhymes.
  4. Lines 1, 2, and 5 have three of those da-da-DAH “feet,” and rhyme with each other.
  5. Lines 3 and 4 have two, and rhyme with each other.
So the basic form is:
da da DAH / da da DAH / da da BING
da da DAH / da da DAH / da da DING
da da DAH / da da BAM
da da DAH / da da WHAM
da da DAH / da da DAH / da da PING
Limericks can:
  1. drop the first “da” in a line, changing that foot to da-DAH (iamb).
  2. add an extra “da” or two at the end of a line IF it’s used for an extended rhyme, such as people and steeple or cannibal and Hannibal.
  3. use special fonts or characters to make a point,
A Limerick is a rhymed humorous or nonsense poem of five lines which originated in Limerick, Ireland.
The Limerick has a set rhyme scheme of : a-a-b-b-a with a syllable structure of: 9-9-6-6-9.

Limericks can also be written in AMPHIBRACH meter

– two lines of amphibrachic trimeter, two lines of amphibrachic dimeter,

and a final line of amphibrachic trimeter.

Below my visual template shows two perfectly acceptable Limerick Forms.
In the strictest sense limericks should be a single five line poem.  Currently you find many poets stringing them together as stanzas.
Example Poem

The Lady and the Hat

The Lady in the Hat

The lady was well put together
with her tats and hat with a feather
I longed so to treasure
her feminine pleasure
at my place or hers, if she’d rather.

A limerick in amphibrach meter.

With a hat with a feather in place
and a corset constricting her waist
She said, nodding at me
“Take me home if you’re free
I so need a young man to embrace. “

A limerick in anapest meter

(c) Lawrencealot – 2013


For most of three years, that is all I had to say about the subject. During which I a learned a great deal about the permitted mechanics and devices formally allow in writing a poem in a specific meter.
Note: The following explanation is the most correct I have seen, and shows that one FOOT can easily morph into another, because headless feet, and catalectic feet are always s permitted poetic devise which denies counting syllables any validity in defining metrics.

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.

Pasted from

I would love to give attribution, but can do no better than the URL, which belongs to a private domain, but I do thank Andrea Detriech for bringing it to my attention.

But you will note, that by paying attention to these requirements our amphibrach limerick is indeed anapestic as well.


Visual Templates

Anapest version

Amphibrach Version

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