Top 10 Limerick Examples to Make You Laugh

Have a little fun with these 10 limerick examples from famous writers.

If you are looking for some fun and interesting poetry to read, but that doesn’t require a lot of deep thinking, you may want to look into the limerick. These whimsical, five-line poems typically use humor to make a point or simply entertain.

All funny limericks follow the same rhyme scheme of aabba. The “a” lines have a meter of three combinations of unstressed and stressed syllables, while the “b” lines have a meter of two combinations of the stressed and unstressed syllables.

The name “Limerick” comes from the county of Limerick in southwest Ireland, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Taking a look at some famous Limericks examples to help you understand this poetic form.

Top limerick examples to make you laugh

Limerick Poem Examples

1. “There Was an Old Man with a Beard” by Edward Lear

Edward Lear was a famous British poet often credited as the father of the limerick, even though the first limericks came from folk songs of the 1700s. His famous limericks popularized the form. This funny limerick poem makes fun of an old man who lets his beard grow so long, it becomes a nest of sorts for animals.

“There was an Old Man with a beard
Who said, “It is just as I feared!”
Two Owls and a Hen
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!”

Edward Lear

2. “A Wonderful Bird is the Pelican” by Dixon Lanier Merritt

Often mistakenly attributed to Ogden Nash, this funny poem is actually the work of Merritt. In the second line, it shows a made-up word designed to keep the aabba rhyme scheme intact.

“A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His bill holds more than his belican.
He can take in his beak
Enough food for a week,
But I’m damned if I see how the helican.”

Dixon Lanier Merritt

3. “There Was a Young Lady of Station” by Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll
Lewis Carroll via Wikimedia Commons, Public domain

Many examples of limericks are funny because of an unexpected twist in the last line, and this is one of those. It seems the young lady in question has a crush on men, only to twist the answer to be a love for the Isle of Man.

“There was a young lady of station
‘I love man’ was her sole exclamation
But when men cried, ‘you flatter’
She replied, ‘Oh! No matter!’
Isle of Man is the true explanation.”

Lewis Carroll

4. “There Was a Small Boy of Quebec” by Rudyard Kipling

This humorous poem shows that the brave people of Quebec can withstand very cold temperatures. Even buried up to his neck and frozen solid, the boy won’t say that he is cold.

“There was a small boy of Quebec,
Who was buried in snow to his neck;
When they said ‘Are you friz?’
He replied, ‘Yes, I is –
But we don’t call this cold in Quebec.'”

Rudyard Kipling

5. “There Once Was a Man from Nantucket” by Princeton Tiger

This limerick became famous when it was published in a Nantucket newspaper, and the Chicago Tribune published a reply, followed by several limerick replies from other publications. Still, the original poem remains the most famous of the works that came from the Nantucket limerick battle.

“There once was a man from Nantucket
Who kept all his cash in a bucket.
But his daughter, named Nan
Ran away with a man,
And as for the bucket, Nantucket.”

Princeton Tiger

6. “There Was a Young Lady of Lynn” by Anonymous

Though the author is not known, this limerick is quite popular because of the funny visual picture it creates. Every reader can imagine the fictional lady slipping right into the straw.

“There was a young lady of Lynn,
Who was so uncommonly thin
That when she essayed
To drink lemonade
She slipped through the straw and fell in.”


7. “Our Novels Get Longa and Longa” by H.G. Wells

H.G. Wells
H.G. Wells via Wikimedia Commons, Public domain

Science fiction writer H.G. Wells tried his hand at limericks too. He wrote using some nonsense words to make them interesting and engaging. Here is one of his most famous Limericks:

“Our novels get longa and longa
Their language gets stronga and stronga.
There’s much to be said
For a life that is led
in illiterate places like Bonga.”

H.G. Wells

8. “There Was a Young Bell of Old Natchez” by Ogden Nash

This poem is the work of Ogden Nash, an American poet known for his lighthearted works. In many of his works, he uses inventive spelling to not only make the words rhyme but also to make them appear the same. This is one of the most famous of his limerick poems:

“There was a young belle of old Natchez
Whose garments were always in patchez.
When comments arose
On the state of her clothes,
She replied, ‘When Ah itchez, Ah scratchez.”

Ogden Nash

9. “A Man Hired by John Smith and Co.” by Mark Twain

Mark Twain wrote several funny limericks, which is not surprising in light of the author’s humorous tales. One of his most famous is this one, though it is not a perfect example of a limerick due to its less than perfect rhyme:

“A man hired by John Smith and Co.
Loudly declared that he’d tho.
Men that he saw
Dumping dirt near his door
The drivers, therefore, didn’t do.”

Mark Twain

10. “Hickory Dickory Dock” by Mother Goose

The nursery rhymes of Mother Goose are often written as limericks. This makes them easy for children to remember and fun for adults to read aloud. One of the most famous Limericks is the one about the mouse and the clock:

“Hickory Dickory Dock,
The mouse ran up the clock.
The clock struck one;
The mouse did run.
Hickory Dickory Dock.”

Mother Goose

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FAQs About Examples of Limerick Poetry

What do limericks have in common?

Limericks typically have five lines and follow a strict rhyme scheme (AABBA), the first, second, and fifth lines having eight to nine syllables each, and the third and fourth lines having five or six.

What are the different types of limericks?

There are several types of limericks, including:
1. Traditional limericks
2. Double limericks
3. Chain limericks
4. Reverse limericks
5. Nonsense limericks
6. Political limericks
7. Adult limericks

What are two examples of a limerick?

Here are two examples of limericks:
1. There once was a man from Peru
Who dreamed he was eating his shoe
He woke with a fright
In the middle of the night
To find that his dream had come true

2. There was a young lady of Kent
Whose nose was exceedingly bent
She walked into a door
And bent it even more
Now she looks like a circus tent

What are the characteristics of a limerick?

Limericks are five-line humorous poems. The characteristics of a limerick include:
1. Rhyme scheme
2. Meter
3. Humor
4. Short and snappy
5. Bawdy or risqué

  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.