When I first encountered limericks with creative abbreviations as part of my research for There Once Was a Limerick Anthology, my mind was blown. Upon reading the “Mr.” limerick below, I thought, The English language isn’t supposed to work that way! The “LL.D.” and “mdse.” limericks are harder to figure out and are jaw-droppingly clever. I initially had trouble finding more than a handful of limericks with creative abbreviations, but eventually I had enough for an entire chapter, which I’d never seen in other limerick anthologies. While most of these selections are anonymous, there is one from America’s greatest humorist, Mark Twain, plus five from yours truly.
I gave this guidance in the chapter introduction: “These limericks use patterns based on creative abbreviations. It may be challenging to sound out some of them on your first attempt. Pronounce the first abbreviation in the standard manner. Then apply the same pronunciation to made-up abbreviations that rhyme with the first.” Except for the first limerick by Twain, the selections in this batch are anonymous. Here are some highlights from There Once Was a Limerick Anthology:
A man hired by John Smith and Co. Loudly declared he would tho. Man that he saw Dumping dirt near his store. The drivers, therefore, didn’t do. —Mark Twain She was peeved and called him “Mr.” Not because he went and kr., But because, just before, As she opened the door, This same Mr. kr. sr. A lady who lived in Mont. Had a beautiful daughter named H., Who once took a seat On Twentieth Street, Having slipped on a piece of ban. A young man, whose first name was Geo., Once ventured his pa’s check to feo.; But they quickly found out What this youth was about, And compelled him at once to disgeo. There was a young man had a bro., Son of the father and mo., Who was also a twin; And ’t was really a sin, For you couldn’t tell one from the o. The sermon our pastor Rt. Rev. Began, may have had a Rt. clev., But his talk, though consistent, Kept the end so far distant, We left since we felt he mt. nev. If a lawyer’s a LL.D., Then a dentist’s a JJ.D. But it’s simply absurd If you say of a bird That a crow is a CC.D. A cobbler who also sold mdse. Cut birch wood to make him some bdse. But the first die he cast Was the shoemaker’s last— He grips at his heart, gives a ldse.
I was so smitten with creative abbreviation limericks that I tried my hand at writing them. I got an abbreviations dictionary and related books from the library for inspiration. That’s how I realized that “Wm.” isn’t short for just William! I am the author of the following limericks:
The Peppers from Calif. Will always, I have to w., Declare their home state At ev'ry tour date, Waving it before your c.! The punk rocker sings the vs. But what's aesthetically ws. During the chorus— He must abhor us, At the whole crowd screaming cs.! Spotting an amphibian on the rd., A lady felt compelled to kiss the td. He grew into a prince, But she feels, ever since, Like there is a favor that she is d. If you lack the inner dr. And for results do not str. And don't take action, Then satisfaction To yourself you will depr. There was a German logger named Wm., Said upon spotting a pair of m., "To fell a sick tree, Duty fell to me. Now I will pick up my axe and km.!"