Each poem below describes a phobia. Guess what the person is scared of in each. For extra credit try to name the phobia’s official name. Post your answers in the comments section below.


Phobia 1

There was a young lady from Snives
Who was frightened to open her eyes
She feared she would see
What never should be—
The hair curling out of her thighs.


Phobia 2

“I think that I’ve lost it,” she said
As she stooped and looked under the bed.
“I’ll die with no phone
I long for that tone
And silence just fills me with dread.”


Phobia 3

Dear Santa—don’t come to my house
I can cope with a shiny-faced spouse
But that stuff on your face
Suggests at its base
That it’s probably hiding a louse.


Phobia 4

Old Sammy would mutter and splutter
When viewing a sandwich with butter
(Made of nuts that are found
When they’re grown on the ground)
He’d throw it straight into the gutter.


Phobia 5

There once was a man with twelve buns,
When into another he runs;
He counts them all up
But can’t start to sup,
For their number is one that he shuns.


Phobia 6

Some girls like to have lots of flings
And flirt with monarchs and kings
But I harbour a fear
If I’m anywhere near
Those things with colourful wings.



Jan Darling is a New Zealander who has worked in Auckland, Wellington, London, Barcelona, New York and Sydney at copywriting and marketing strategy.  She has spent her leisure time over sixty years writing poetry and short stories. Now retired, she lives in pastoral New South Wales with her husband Arturo. 

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45 Responses

    • Jan Darling

      Exactly! Do you know if any other numbers have their own special meanings, Mark? One would think that 7 deserves special recognition of its presence in so many spiritual references.

  1. Leo Zoutewelle

    Having never been any good at writing limericks I admire the quality of your fun rhymes. Cheers

    • Jan Darling

      I wonder what little mechanism in our minds is triggered to express a phobia – and why a person can be absolutely rational in all other departments of life – but have a fear of something as delicate and unthreatening as a butterfly! Does irrationality have a rational reason for existence? Thanks for your answer.

  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    They are great stuff. We need more feisty limericks.

    May I suggest two minor fixes for metrical purposes? In “Phobia 6” I’d like to see lines 2 and 5 tightened up like this:

    And flirt with bright monarchs and kings…

    Those insects with colourful wings…

    • C.B. Anderson

      Indeed, Joseph, writers of limericks should learn to tighten up and fill out their anapests and amphibrachs, because this short form is driven by the galloping feet of which it is composed. Did I ever tell you about the woman I knew from Nantucket? Never mind.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        This isn’t a limerick, Kip, but it’s a old epitaph from New England and you might like it:

        This is the grave of Elizabeth Lee —
        She lived to the age of one hundred and three.
        For fifteen years she kept her virginity —
        A pretty good record for this vicinity.

      • Jan Darling

        The one about ‘she threw him a bucket, but knew he would duck it’? Naughty CB. My anapests and amphibrachs have been filled out and happily, the bucket did not overflow.

      • Monty

        I agree, CB. With the limerick being such a short form of poetry, and one that is so reliant on a thumping beat . . it stands out like an albino when a beat is missed, as above.

        With a limerick being so short,
        There is NO excuse of any sort
        For a beat to be missed
        (Or the meter be pissed) . .
        ‘Cause the beats are a lim’rick’s cohort.

        (‘pissed’ in Britain means drunk, wobbly)

    • Jan Darling

      I wonder what little mechanism in our minds is triggered to express a phobia – and why a person can be absolutely rational in all other departments of life – but have a fear of something as delicate and unthreatening as a butterfly! Does irrationality have a rational reason for existence? Thanks for your answer.

    • Jan Darling

      Consider them fixed! Thank you Joseph. I must be prone to phobias myself – once I started writing them, I want to go on and on. What would you call a phobia that expresses the fear of being unable to stop writing about phobias?

    • Jan Darling

      Please tell me you did not already know that word! A reasonable guess could have produced ‘fear of pogo sticks’. (What could be sillier than pogonophilia?)

  3. Joseph S. Salemi

    Thrixophobia (or Trichophobia) – fear of hair

    or if the hair is purely figurative in this limerick:

    Menarchophobia – fear of the onset of female puberty.

    • Jan Darling

      Your suggestions are valid, Joseph. But I planted the specific clue to the word I had in mind in the second line.

  4. James A. Tweedie

    And I bet that none of you had to look those words up in an on-line lexicon, right? lol

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      Actually, I made menarchophobia up myself, since there seems to be no ancient Greek word for female puberty. The standard words for puberty (“hebe” and “helikia”) seem to be limited to the male sex.

      • James A. Tweedie

        That’s a good word. I could even understand it! Perhaps the OED and APA would be interested!?

  5. Peter Hartley

    Phobia 4
    ARACHIBUTYROPHOBIA – peanut butter, although I’d prefer to tell my doctor I had a peanut butter allergy. I wonder what kind of dingbat would use a word like this in a doctor’s surgery and expect to be understood?

    • Jan Darling

      I get your message – but these are not allergies – they are phobias. Do you, like me, subscribe to the purist point of view? If you can’t pronounce it, you have no right to have it! That should clear out the doctor’s waiting room. How about this as an alternative meaning: Fear of being forced to spread peanut butter onto spiders?

  6. Joseph S. Salemi

    Yes — as my dad used to say, a limerick should be “tighter than a duck’s ass, and that’s waterproof.”

    • M. P. Lauretta

      Speaking of asses and limericks…

      [read with a British accent]

      “Training Video”

      There was a lawmaker of Georgia
      who had a plump rump like a porker.
      Yet nobody would know
      were it not for that show
      where he bared it and charged – what a plonker!

      © M. P. Lauretta

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        There was a young girl from Madras
        Who had a magnificent ass —
        Not rounded and pink,
        As you probably think,
        But was grey, had long ears, and ate grass.

  7. M. P. Lauretta

    That’s a great favourite of mine.

    There’s a video of Garrison Keillor reading it on Youtube, though it’s a fairly long video including many other poems.

  8. Joseph S. Salemi

    A maiden from old Aberistwyth
    Took grain to the mill to make grist with.
    The miller’s son Jack
    Laid her flat on her back
    And united the organs they pissed with.

    (Limericks are dirty by nature.)

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        That’s the Edward Lear “Book of Limericks” — one of the very earliest publications of that genre of verse.

        Unfortunately, most of Lear’s limericks are disappointingly dull and lifeless. They lack the real zing and zest of the raunchy off-color ones.

  9. Joe Tessitore

    There’s an obscure one by Baring-Gould that’s anything but lifeless:

    There was a young fellow named Cass
    Whose ballocks were made out of brass.
    When they tinkled together
    They played “Stormy Weather”
    And lightning shot out of his ass.

    • Joe Tessitore

      One more:

      There was a young lady of Norway
      Who hung by her toes in a doorway.
      She said to her beau:
      “Just look at me, Joe
      I think I’ve discovered one more way.”

  10. James A. Tweedie

    One good thing about limericks is that they offer the opportunity to use words that would not ordinarily be used in poetry–and use them in humorous, unexpected ways. They are also easy to compose, at least I find them to be. Here’s one I threw together after reading Dr. Salemi’s latest post on this thread. No doubt he knows people like this:

    A professor of Latin named Mattis,
    Demonstrated the meaning of “flatus.”
    Though the room smelled like poo,
    There was nothing to do,
    Since he carried a full-tenured status.

    On the downside, limericks, while good for a smile, are rarely edifying.

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      Well, we don’t always need edification. In fact, an edifying limerick would be a complete bore.

      Here are two classic limericks, not edifying at all:

      While Titian was mixing rose madder,
      His model reclined on a ladder.
      Her position to Titian
      Suggested coition
      So climbed up the ladder and had her.

      The use of the triple rhyme of “Titian,” “position,” and “coition” is brilliant. Or consider this one:

      There was a young lady from Exeter
      So pretty that men craned their necks at her.
      One was even so brave
      As to take out and wave
      The distinguishing mark of his sex at her.

      The utterly unexpected dactylic rhymes with “Exeter” are a stroke of genius.

  11. James A. Tweedie

    The lack of edification is why I don’t waste my time writing raunchy limericks. Regarding the ones cited, I suspect we have a divergent understanding as to whether the words “brilliant” and “stroke of genius” are applicable. As I see it, it doesn’t take a genius to think up a rhyme for “bucket” or “mulch it.”

  12. Rod Shellshear

    Being an engineer I am no wordsmith, however, I refer your readers to a book published in 1967 that I highly recommend. It is entitled “The Lure of the Limerick” by William S Baring- Gould.
    I enjoyed reading your limericks in that they evoke a living picture of each situation described.

    • M. P. Lauretta

      Thanks for the heads-up. I’ve read some very positive reviews so I’ve ordered a copy.

      I expect there will be some overlap with the Penguin Book of Limericks, which I already have, but there are bound to be many that are not.


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