The Other Stuff

Five Fascinating Facts about the Limerick

Your questions about limericks are hereby answered.

Interesting Literature

Fun facts about the limerick, the five-line comic poem whose origins are shrouded in mystery

1. Nobody knows for sure why limericks are named limericks. There have been numerous theories put forward for why the five-line verse known as the ‘limerick’ is so named, but none of them is conclusive. The name ‘limerick’ was first applied to the five-line form in the late nineteenth century, and one theory holds that comic verses once contained the line ‘Will [or won’t] you come (up) to Limerick?’ But although the poems are almost certainly named after Limerick in Ireland, whether this is the true explanation of the name’s origin remains unproven. One thing’s for sure: the limerick, unlike the sonnet or other poetic forms, seems to be a peculiarly English form. It has even been described by Brander Matthews as perhaps the only original verse form in the whole of English literature. (Or is…

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