The English Parnassus, or A helpe to English Poesie

The English Parnassus, or A helpe to English poesie: containing a short institution of that art, a collection of all rhyming monosyllables, the choicest epithets and phrases, with some general forms upon all occasions, subjects, and theams, alphabetically digested

This early example of an English rhyming dictionary was designed to make writing poetry easier. While the work is arranged alphabetically, it begins by sorting monosyllabic words before moving on to thesaurus-like alternative word selections and ending with over 5,000 snippets of poetry reflecting specific terms. As rhyming depends on the pronunciation of individual words, rhyming dictionaries vary widely across languages and as language evolves over time. This dictionary provides a glimpse into the linguistic patterns common at the time of publication. For example, Poole categorizes the words Garb, Hearb, and Orbe together as being pronounced with the “ARB'' syllable, but those words no longer rhyme today.

Josua Poole (fl. 1632-1646).
The English Parnassus, or A Helpe to English Poesie: Containing a Short Institution of that Art, a Collection of all Rhyming Monosyllables, the Choicest Epithets and Phrases…Alphabetically Digested. London: Tho. Johnson, 1657.

Lehigh University Catalog Record:

A version of this text is available through Early English Books Online.

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