What rhymes with axolotl?

Not a lotl, I would have thought.

A few days ago someone posted on Facebook The Axolotl Song (earworm warning), by a music/video/comedy group called Rathergood, which consists of Joel Veitch and unnamed others. They quickly rhyme axolotl with bottle and lotl, and also with mottled, which doesn’t quite rhyme.

There is a surprising number of English words ending with -tle. Morewords.com lists 104, but there are several derived forms; for example, bluebottle is listed alongside bottle. Eleven of these have a silent t in the cluster –stle, for example, castle. There are also a few with –ntle, for example, gentle, in which the n is part of the previous syllable, and one with –btle (subtle), in which the b is silent. The one which goes closest to rhyming with axolotl is apostle, but I can’t imagine anyone fitting both of those into the same song. Otherwise, there are bottle (and bluebottle), throttle, wattle and mottle among relatively common words and pottle (a former liquid measure equal to two quarts) (why not just say ‘two quarts’ or ‘half a gallon’?) and dottle (the plug of half-smoked tobacco in the bottom of a pipe after smoking) (does anyone really need a word for this?).

These have different origins. Bottle is ultimately from Latin butti(s) + -cula, throttle from Middle English throtelen, frequentative of throten to cut the throat of (someone), strangle, derivative of throat, wattle from Old English watul covering, akin to wætla bandage,* mottle is probably back formation from motley, pottle is Middle French pot + -elle and dottle from dialectual English dot + -le. This spelling often flummoxes students, and they want to pronounce bottle as bott-ly, for example.

[*As an Australian, I was/am far more used to wattle as a flowering plant, particular the bright yellow variety. The meaning ‘a number of rods or stakes interwoven with twigs or tree branches for making fences, walls, etc’ came first, and the word was later applied to the Australian flowering plant because of its use in that way.]

Axolotl, meanwhile, is from Nahuatl ā(tl) water + xōlōtl page, male servant. Another word which came into English from Nahuatl is chocolātl, but the pronunciation and spelling of that have changed, or been changed.

The joke of the song is that an axolotl is a salamander, specifically a variety which does not metamorphise, develop lungs and begin living on land, at least part of the time. There can’t be too many songs which include the words axolotl, gills, mottled, salamander, goo, species, metamorphic, lungs, melancholic, neotenic and rue.

PS Having thought about it, I’ll stick with my original thought that not a lot rhymes with axolotl. Four relatively common words, two rare words and a couple of joke words is not a lotl.

[Definitions and information from Dictionary.com and Wikipedia.org (do you really think I know all that without looking it up?)]


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