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Doggerel

Doggerel is a term that has been in use since the fourteenth century, with virtually the same definition that it carries today. We will examine the meaning of the literary term doggerel, where it most probably came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Doggerel is irregular poetry, poorly written with irregular meter and rhyme, concerning trivial matters. Doggerel is sometimes written as a parody of more serious poetry. Many poems, rhymes and songs written for children are referred to as doggerel, referring to a literary work as doggerel is generally an insult. The term doggerel first appeared in the fourteenth century. One of the earliest references is by Geoffrey Chaucer, speaking about his Tale of Sir Thopas as a rym doggerel, parodying popular tales of medieval romance. The word doggerel seems to have been derived from the Middle English word dogerel, meaning nonsense, most probably related to the idea of something only fit for a dog.

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Examples

He is widely regarded as the worst poet to wield a quill but William McGonagall’s dreadful doggerel may have actually been a cunning contrivance. (The Sunday Times)

Personally, one of the more brilliant pieces of political doggerel I ever came across I saw written on a bathroom wall of an ultra-liberal college campus (no matter how cliché it sounds, that is indeed where I saw it), in the early 1980s. (The Huffington Post)

And when the equestrian statue of Field Marshal Gough in the Phoenix Park was blown off its plinth by a bomb in 1957, Vincent Caprani composed a memorable – if somewhat scabrous – piece of doggerel (modelled on Robert Service’s The Cremation of Sam McGee) called Gough’s Statue. (The Irish Times)

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