Clerihew Definition

A Clerihew (or clerihew) is a very specific kind of short humorous verse, typically with the following properties: It is biographical and usually whimsical, showing the subject from an unusual point of view; but it is hardly ever satirical, abusive or obscene; It has four lines of irregular length (for comic effect); The first line consists solely (or almost solely) of a well-known person's name.


The Clerihew is a type of poem that is a short comical or nonsensical verse. It is typically in two rhyming couplets with lines of unequal length that refer to a famous person. The Clerihew poem came about in the 1920's and is named after Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875–1956), the English writer who invented it. The Clerihew is a biography that makes fun of a famous person.It tends to show the subject of the poem from an unusual point of view. It usually has 4 lines of irregular length and is metered for a comical effect.

The rhyming structure of the Clerihew poem is AABB, with phrases that can be in Latin, French and other non-English languages. The end of the first line of a true Clerihew poem will only consist of the subjects name. The purpose of this is to show the skill in being able to rhyme difficult names.The Clerihew poem is not meant to be satirical or mean-spirited towards the famous person, but does seek to show them in an absurd light that is not the norm for other poetry. 

Clerihew Poem Example

Sir Humphrey Davy
Abominated gravy.
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.

Top 5 Clerihew Poem Examples

PMPoem TitlePoetFormCategories
Premium Member Poem Clerihew Soup Lamoureux, Richard Clerihewtribute,
Premium Member Poem VINCENT VAN GOGH ALLISON, JAN Clerihewart, humorous,
Premium Member Poem I Am A 4 Gorelick, Barbara Clerihewconflict, leadership,
Premium Member Poem Macaulay Culkin Callus, Paul Clerihewcharacter,
Mary and Frank Arnone, Tom Clerihewcreation, gothic, horror, poetry,

Other Clerihew Definition

[n] a witty satiric verse containing two rhymed couplets and mentioning a famous person


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See Also...

rhyme, verse

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