Hurkling and hills

While browsing Wikipedia the other day, I came across a list of English words without rhymes, formally known as refractory rhymes.  The article also contained a list of common English words that only rhyme with very obscure words.  Of the latter, one that caught my eye was hurkle (which rhymes with circle – I’ll leave it to you to figure out which of those two is the common word and which the obscure one).

To hurkle is a verb, which the Wikipedia article says means to pull in all ones limbs.  Wiktionary gives a bit more detail, suggesting that the primary meaning is to draw in the parts of the body, especially with pain or cold.  It can also mean to cower (obviously a related meaning).  Unfortunately Wiktionary doesn’t give any usage examples (or translations) for this particular word and pretty much all of the hits I turned up on a Google search seemed to be for unrelated uses.  Still, you never know when you might be writing a poem and needing a rhyme for ‘circle’.

Incidentally, I was once told (and it seems to be a commonly held opinion, though I can no longer call it a fact as I once did) that “orange” was the only word in the English language that didn’t have a rhyme.  In fact, orange only makes it onto the obscure-rhymes list rather than the no-rhymes list, as it rhymes with Blorenge, the name of a hill down in South Wales.  On the other hand, there are quite a few words that Wikipedia lists as true refractory rhymes (you can read the article for yourself if you’re that interested).

If tonight is as chilly as the last few nights have been, I shall no doubt hurkle (with cold, rather than pain) when I get into bed.

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