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New Limerick Contest

$300 First Prize For The Best Limerick Definitions Of Commonly Encountered Words In Epidemiology

Our editors are always on the lookout for new contest ideas and one came to us from a recent article in the Associated Press. It was entitled “Definition Mission: A Rhyming Limerick For Each English Word”. The article described the efforts of a US resident from Illinois who has undertaken the task of writing a limerick definition for each word in the dictionary. It started as a joke but has now become a serious effort involving multiple collaborators.

A limerick, according to is a kind of humorous verse of five lines, in which the first, second, and fifth lines rhyme with each other, and the third and fourth lines, which are shorter, form a rhymed couplet.

The idea described in the article is to write a limerick that weaves a joke into an accurate explanation of a word’s meaning. For example, one definition of the word “adult” in this dictionary is:

As a kid, I was wild and a clown

As a teen, I would dash about town.

Now adult, I shall go

Very cautious and slow.

Goes to prove: what grows up must calm down.

We are launching a similar mission to define frequently used words in epidemiology using a limerick. Examples of the definitions we are interested in are those for words such as risk, association, variable, cause, prevalence, incidence, statistically significant, rate, numerator, intervention, cohort, case-control, disease, health, denominator and many other commonly used words.

Readers are encouraged to create a humorous limerick definition for any word of their choice which is commonly used in epidemiology. Contestants will have ample time to submit as many definitions as they would like, either for the same word defined differently or for different words in each submission. Any explanatory footnotes pertinent to the definition are welcome.

The definition judged to be the most clever, humorous, and still "accurate" will receive a $300 prize and will be appropriately named and honored on the pages of a future monthly issue.

The deadline for submitting entries to us at is March 30, 2018. All entries must be original entries not obtained from other published sources. Contributions from friends and colleagues are permitted and should be acknowledged in the submission.

To stimulate your creative thinking, we reprint below a few of the definitions already included in the Limerick Dictionary. Good luck to everyone! We are sure you can do better than these!


When you're healthy, your life is a breeze.
But it's hard when you constantly sneeze,
Harbor parasite worms
And some flesh-eating germs ...
'Tisn't easy to live with disease.


One event's an essential foundation
For another one's realization:
Those events would connect
As a cause and effect—
Their relationship's one of causation.


The grades would be posted — he waited.
His status on campus? Ill-fated.
His cohorts in college
Disdained gaining knowledge
From anything textbook-related.

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