Top 50 Nursery Rhymes Of All Time (Lyrics, Origins and More)

It’s a rite of passage for everyone growing up to memorize a dozen or so nursery rhymes along with our siblings and classmate. The list of nursery rhymes we could recite from the top of our heads along with the actions they come with seem very natural to many kids and adults up to today.

These nursery rhymes playlist can be heard in classrooms and kiddie parties all over the world and it adds a little bit of fun into the ambiance with the fun words and clever rhymes.

But have you ever wondered where these nursery song lyrics came from and what they mean? Here’s the list of popular nursery rhymes and their origins to add to your stock knowledge:

 1. A Wise Old Owl

Lyrics:

A wise old owl lived in an oak

The more he saw the less he spoke

The less he spoke the more he heard.

Why can't we all be like that wise old bird?

Meaning/Origins:

In the list of popular nursery rhymes this one is a lesser known rhyme. The rhyme originated in the US and was used in a rhyme poster during World War II.

The rhyme focuses on the image of an owl as being wise and encourages children to observe more rather than talk non-sense to be considered as wise as the formidable owl.

The lesson behind the nursery rhyme song lyrics is that there is more to be gained by following in the footsteps of the wise owl by listening first before we speak.

2. A-Tisket, A-Tasket

Lyrics:

A-tisket a-tasket

A green and yellow basket

I wrote a letter to my love

And on the way I dropped it,

I dropped it,

I dropped it,

And on the way I dropped it.

A little boy he picked it up and put it in his pocket.

Meaning/Origin:

The classic nursery rhymes list continues with this next 19th Century rhyme. This is a more interactive nursery rhyme commonly played by children during their break or free time from school.

dropped it and if they are caught

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Red_and_blue_bandannas.jpg

A child will usually circle a group of children outside their ring and drop a handkerchief when the song ends. The child who is nearest the handkerchief must now chase the one who dropped it and if they are caught they will either be kissed, join back the circle, or tell the group the name of the person they like.

The nursery rhymes song’s lyrics are an expression of someone letting another person know their feelings.

3. Baa, Baa, Black Sheep

Lyrics:

Baa, baa, black sheep,

Have you any wool?

Yes, sir, yes, sir,

Three bags full;

One for the master,

And one for the dame,

And one for the little boy

Who lives down the lane

Meaning/Origin:

refer to the heavy taxation on wool

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There are two different meanings thought to be behind these nursery rhyme lyrics. One theory suggests that the lyrics refer to the heavy taxation on wool in 1275.

Another theory behind the lyrics suggests that they may be referring to the slave trade in the US, but neither theories have been proven today.

4. Bingo/Bingo Was His Name-O

Lyrics:

There was a farmer, had a dog,

and Bingo was his name-o.

B-I-N-G-O

B-I-N-G-O

B-I-N-G-O

And Bingo was his name-o.

Meaning/Origin:

The nursery rhymes lyrics mentioned above are just the first part of the rhyme. As the song continues the proceeding letters of the word “Bingo” are omitted and replaced by a clap.

The origins of the song are obscured as they cannot be traced, but the purpose of the song is to make children more familiar with spelling simple words. The meaning behind the lyrics is just as simple as it merely just talks about a farmer who lived in a farm with his dog.

the lyrics is just as simple as it merely

https://www.flickr.com/photos/xurble/201597522

5. Bye, Baby Bunting

Lyrics:

Bye, baby Bunting,

Daddy’s gone a-hunting,

Gone to get a rabbit skin

To wrap the baby Bunting in

Meaning/Origin:

The famous nursery rhymes list continues with this favorite English rhyme and lullaby. “Bunting” is a term of endearment meaning plump. The meaning behind the lyrics is a father saying goodbye to his child as he will leave to look for supplies for the baby to stay healthy and happy.

The song is a popular lullaby used in England during the late 1700’s where it was common for men to hunt for food and clothing for his family instead of buying it at the store.

6. Cock a Doodle Doo

Lyrics:

Cock a doodle do!

My dame has lost her shoe,

My master's lost his fiddlestick,

And knows not what to do.

Meaning/Origin:

The famous nursery rhymes lyrics listed above is the most modern and shortest version to date. The lyrics of the rhyme originated in England during the 1600’s where the children were mocking the crow of the rooster.

The meaning behind the lyrics is to wake up and to be more responsible. The song refers to master and a dame both of which cannot function until they have found a certain item.

The dame is passed on to someone else while the master continues to find his fiddlestick which can be a symbol of passing off responsibility to someone else until the “master” is ready.

to wake up and to be more responsible

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/12/Rooster_and_hen_clipart_01.svg/2000px-Rooster_and_hen_clipart_01.svg.png

7. Ding Dong Bell

Lyrics:

Ding, dong, bell,

Pussy’s in the well.

Who put her in?

Little Johnny Flynn.

Who pulled her out?

Little Tommy Stout.

What a naughty boy was that,

To try to drown poor pussy cat,

Who never did him any harm,

But killed all the mice in the farmer's barn

Meaning/Origin:

This nursery song’s lyrics can be traced back to the late 1500’s.

The meaning behind the song tells us that there are two types of people in the world. There are the little Johnny Flynn’s who are evil and choose to do harm to others. Then there are little Tommy Stout’s who are heroes because they choose to do the right thing and save an innocent creature like the little kitty.

Kids are taught this song at a very young age so that they can define what is right and what is wrong during their development years.

8. Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe

Lyrics:

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe,

Catch a tiger by the toe.

If he hollers, let him go,

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.

Meaning/Origin:

Considered as one of the most popular kids nursery rhymes lyrics this one has a long list of variations. The origins can be traced back to the street of New York City during 1815.

The lyrics basically express a way of choosing something or someone by random. The child or the chooser will recite their version of the nursery rhyme and point to another child per word.

Once the last word has been said the person being pointed to will be considered as the “it” or is the one chosen and must chase after the person singing if they are playing a game of tag.

this one has a long list of variations

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9. Five Little Speckled Frogs

Lyrics:

Five little speckled frogs

Sat on a speckled log

Eating the most delicious grubs

One jumped into the pool

Where it was nice and cool

Then there were four green speckled frogs.

Meaning/Origin:

 it make it a great learning tool for teachers

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Many nursery rhymes with lyrics also come with actions just like this one. The simple reason why teachers and children love this nursery rhyme as it has a double purpose.

Kids are able to learn how to count as the number of frogs mentioned in the lyrics slowly reduces as the song goes on until there are none left.

The simplicity of the lyrics and the actions that come with it make it a great learning tool for teachers who want to engage their younger students while still teaching them in the process.

10. Frere Jacques

Lyrics:

Are you sleeping,

Are you sleeping,

Brother John,

Brother John?

Morning Bells are Ringing,

Morning Bells are Ringing.

Ding, dang, dong!

Ding, dang, dong !

Meaning/Origin:

its original French version

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This classic nursery thymes lyrics is most popular in its original French version. Although the song has been translated to English and many other languages it is still known under its French title.

The meaning behind the lyrics clearly states the rising of someone from bed. This song is normally used to taken sleeping children in loving and tender way to prevent them from being cranky and weepy in the early morning.

The most popular theory about the song is that it was created to mock the Dominican monks for their relaxed and comfortable lifestyles. There are many theories about who the original “Frere Jacques” may be but none of these have been proven.

11. Georgie Porgie

Lyrics:

Georgie Porgie, Puddin' and Pie,

Kissed the girls and made them cry,

When the boys came out to play

Georgie Porgie ran away.

Meaning/Origin:

Another title for the classic nursery rhymes list that comes from England is Georgie Porgie. Many of the theories around the origins of this rhyme is centered on England’s royalty. Such monarchs thought to be the inspiration for this nursery rhyme are George I, Gerorge Villers the first Duke of Buckingham, George II, and Charles II.

Although plausible, none of these theories have been proven until today. Another popular theory behind this nursery rhyme is traced back to the Great London Fire where “Georgie” is an arsonist and the “boys” refer to the firefighters trying to catch Georgie before he runs away again.

12. Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush

Lyrics:

Here we go round the mulberry bush,

The mulberry bush,

The mulberry bush.

Here we go round the mulberry bush

So early in the morning.

This is the way we wash our face,

Wash our face,

Wash our face.

This is the way we wash our face

So early in the morning.

This is the way we comb our hair,

Comb our hair,

Comb our hair.

This is the way we comb our hair

So early in the morning.

This is the way we brush our teeth,

Brush our teeth,

Brush our teeth.

This is the way we brush our teeth

So early in the morning.

This is the way we put on our clothes,

Put on our clothes,

Put on our clothes.

This is the way we put on our clothes

So early in the morning.

Here we go round the mulberry bush,

The mulberry bush,

The mulberry bush.

Here we go round the mulberry bush

So early in the morning.

Meaning/Origin:

the song lyrics may have started at a Women’s Prison

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The All Around the Mulberry Bush nursery rhyme lyrics is known in many different names like “Mulberry Bush” or “This is the Way”. The first recording of the rhyme is traced back to the mid-19th Century where it was most popularly used as a children’s game.

Some historian believe that the song lyrics may have started at a Women’s Prison where the inmates were able to witness the growth of a mulberry during their allotted moonlit walks, but there are no clear evidence that is theory is true.

Today the song is sang while children hold hands in circle and make different actions to go with the lyrics of the song as the verses change.

13. Hey Diddle Diddle

Lyrics:

Hey diddle diddle,

The cat and the fiddle,

The cow jumped over the moon,

The little dog laughed to see such fun,

And the dish ran away with the spoon.

Meaning/Origin:

Just like many of the rhymes that originated from England on this nursery rhymes lyrics list this is also speculated to be about the royal court in the days of Queen Elizabeth I.

In particular, the nursery song’s lyrics are thought to be about the scandal between Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley the Earl of Leicester who is known as her “lap dog”.

But like many of the nursery rhymes that can be traced as far back as the 1500’s there are no actual proven theories behind the lyrics just guesses and speculations that make a list of nursery rhymes very interesting and educational.

14. Hickory Dickory Dock

Lyrics:

Hickory Dickory Dock

The mouse ran up the clock

The clock struck two

The mouse said "boo"

Hickory Dickory Dock

Hickory Dickory Dock

The mouse ran up the clock

The clock struck three

The mouse said "wee"

Hickory Dickory Dock

Hickory Dickory Dock

The mouse ran up the clock

The clock struck four

The mouse said "no more"

Hickory Dickory Dock.

Meaning/Origin:

The nursery rhymes list continues with this classic rhyme that can be first traced back in London at around 1744 where the rhyme was opened with “Hickere Dickere Dock.

The rhyme was recorded in the “Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book” at its earliest before it was republished in “Mother Gooses Melody” circa 1765 where the opening line was once again changed to “Dickery, Dickery, Dock”.

The lyrics mentioned above are the most recent and modern version of the classic rhyme that is being commonly used today.

15. Hot Cross Buns

Lyrics:

Hot cross buns, Hot cross buns,

one a penny, two a penny,

hot cross buns,

If you have no daughters,

give them to your sons,

one a penny, two a penny,

Hot Cross Buns.

Meaning/Origin:

Just like many in the nursery rhymes list, lyrics are hard to trace when it comes to their origins.

known for having a cross shape on top

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For the Hot Cross Buns rhyme, it is believed to have been first recorded during the late 1700’s, but its origins could have dated back further in the early 1700’s as a London Street cry. Another theory behind the origins of the rhyme is linked to religion, specifically Christianity.

The bread which is known for having a cross shape on top has been around before Christianity itself and was thought to have been used for paganism.

The Christian church sought to ban the sweet treats, but it was impossible due to its popularity.This lead to the law that the bread would only be eaten during Easter and Christmas as part of the celebration.

16. Humpty Dumpty

Lyrics:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

All the king's horses and all the king's men

Couldn't put Humpty together again.

Meaning/Origin:

the story of his fall in battle

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The “Humpty Dance” lyrics nursery rhyme has one of the most popular origin stories out of all the others in the nursery rhymes list. Although most have associated that Humpty is an egg it is not clearly mentioned in the rhyme at all.

The most common theory behind the lyrics is that Humpty is actually a symbol of King Richard II of England and his defeat in one of the wars he fought where was not able to recover even after his “men” came in his defense.

There are other theories behind the identity of Humpty and what happened to him, but so far none have been proven and many are satisfied with Humpty as King Richard and the story of his fall in battle.

17. Hush Little Baby

Lyrics:

Hush, little baby, don't say a word

Mama's gonna buy you a mockin'bird

If that mockin'bird don't sing

Mama's gonna buy you a diamond ring

If that diamond ring turns brass,

Mama's gonna buy you a looking glass

If that looking glass gets broke

Mama's gonna buy you a billy goat

If that billy goat don't pull,

Mama's gonna buy you a cart and bull

If that cart and bull turn over,

Mama's gonna buy you a dog named Rover

If that dog named Rover won't bark,

Mama's gonna buy you a horse and cart

If that horse and cart fall down,

Then you'll be the sweetest little baby in town.

Meaning/Origin:

 the true origins of the song are lacking

https://pixabay.com/en/baby-girl-sleep-child-toddler-1158889/

This baby nursery rhymes lyrics is a popular lullaby that can be traced back to the Southern parts of the US. Like most folk songs the author and the true origins of the song are lacking, but it remains as a popular lullaby to this day.

The singer (usually the mother) coos her baby to sleep with the promise of buying them all the best gifts in the world. The song tells us about what most parents what to provide for their child while they are growing up: the best. And once that certain item does not fulfill its promise the parent does not consider it worthy for the baby and must find a replacement until the baby is fully satisfied.

18. I’m a Little Tea Pot

Lyrics:

I'm a little teapot, short and stout

Here's my handle, here's my spout.

When the kettle's boiling, hear me shout.

Tip me up and pour me out.

Meaning/Origin:

the song is very easy to follow

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The teapot song is a popular action song done by many preschoolers. The song was originally created by Clarence Kelley and George Harold Sanders during 1939 so that children for Kelley and his wife’s dance school would be able to dance along easily to the song.

The routine or dance that goes along with the song is very easy to follow and pantomime as it is follows the process of pointing out the parts of teapot before pouring out its contents. The children in their dance classes were able to successfully follow the easy steps and the song has since been a favorite of many preschool teachers.

19. It’s Raining, It’s Pouring

Lyrics:

It's raining; it's pouring.

The old man is snoring.

He went to bed and bumped his head,

And he wouldn't get up in the morning.

Meaning/Origin:

become a famous and popular nursery rhyme

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The first two lines of the song can be found on Mother Goose nursery rhymes lyrics back in 1912. The song was first ever recorded in 1939 in New York and has since become a famous and popular nursery rhyme sung across the globe.

The meaning behind the lyrics can be easily interpreted. The song talks of a man who suffered from a head injury and was not able to get back to his daily routine the following day because of his injury.

The method of interpretation is commonly referred to as a “classic description” as the words directly describe the events in the song and there is no need to further analyze the lyrics.

20. Itsy Bitsy Spider

Lyrics:

The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the water spout

Down came the rain, and washed the spider out

Out came the sun, and dried up all the rain

So the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again.

Incy Wincy Spider climbed up the tree

Down came the snow and made poor Incy freeze

Out came the sunshine, and melted all the snow

So Incy Wincy Spider had another go.

Meaning/Origin:

 usually sung with the appropriate hand actions

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The earliest recording of this nursery rhyme can be traced back in the 1910’s where it was commonly called as the “Spider Song”. The nursery rhyme song’s lyrics is usually sung with the appropriate hand actions.

There is no hidden meaning with the lyrics of the rhyme it simply tells the story of the spider who was washed away by the rain water but made his way back up the spout once it was dry.

The mean is simple: Do not give up once the going gets tough. Just like the spider who was once knocked down you can also climb back up and try once more.

21. Jack and Jill

Lyrics:

Jack and Jill went up the hill

To fetch a pail of water.

Jack fell down and broke his crown,

And Jill came tumbling after.

Up Jack got and down he trot

As fast as he could caper;

And went to bed and covered his head

In vinegar and brown paper.

Meaning/Origin:

Yet another nursery rhymes playlist that is speculated to trace its origins in English history and the royal court.

he can still reap from the increase of taxes

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jack_and_Jill_2_-_WW_Denslow_-_Project_Gutenberg_etext_18546.jpg

A popular theory about this particular rhyme is that King Charles I tried to increase the taxes on fluid measures but was not approved by the parliament. To get his way around the ruling he instead ordered the quantity of “Jack” be reduced so that he can still reap from the increase of taxes.

“Jill” or gill then follows after Jack as it also drops when the Jack is reduced. Another theory behind the song is that it is about Louis XVI of France who was beheaded (lost his crown) and his Queen Marie Antoinette (tumbling after).

22. Jack Be Nimble

Lyrics:

Jack be nimble,

Jack be quick,

Jack jump over the candlestick.

Jack jumped high,

Jack jumped low,

Jack jumped over and burned his toe.

Meaning/Origin:

The first recorded version of this nursery rhyme can be traced back to 1815. During those days it was considered good luck to be able to jump over a candle stick as it was a fortune telling device and also a sport.

If the person who was able to jump over the candlestick without extinguishing the flame it was considered as good luck and great fortune.

Although the song still remains popular to this day it is no longer connected to good luck just as a tool for learning for nursery students and kindergarteners. After all, kids playing with candles, matches or fire is frowned-upon.

23. Jack Sprat

Lyrics:

Jack Sprat could eat no fat

His wife could eat no lean.

And so between the two of them,

They licked the platter clean!

Meaning/Origin:

One popular suggestion for the origin of this song that made it to this nursery rhymes lyrics list is that it pokes fun at King Charles I of England and his wife Henrietta Maria of France.

has been made a punch line for many jokes for centuries

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jack_Sprat_and_his_wife_by_Frederick_Richardson.jpg

The lyrics of the rhyme also makes fun of how married men are lean and strong while their wives are usually large and fat which has been made a punch line for many jokes for centuries.

Another explanation of the nursery rhyme is the opposite of the last one. The other tells that the rhyme is originally making fun of men who were small and petite during the olden days which was not considered as attractive.

None of these theories have ever been proven and is all just based on speculation. But which meaning applies to your family the most?

24. Ladybird, Ladybird

Lyrics:

Ladybird, ladybird fly away home,

Your house is on fire and your children are gone,

All except one,

And her name is Ann,

And she hid under the frying pan.

Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home,

Your house is on fire,

Your children shall burn!

Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home.

Your house is on fire;

Your children all roam.

Except little Nan

Who sits in her pan

Weaving her laces as fast as she can.

Meaning/Origin:

often fly away from their nests and then leave their “children” behind

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It is customary to set fire to the fields in order to get rid of bugs within a patch of vegetation. Ladybugs would often fly away from their nests and then leave their “children” behind. Then this rhyme gets quite distressing.

The younger insects in their caterpillar form would have to crawl away from the fire hence “your children all roam.”

Those who are still in their pupae stage have no escape from the fire as they are unable to move which is why the last time “weaving her laces as fast as she can” means that the pupae is trying to survive by covering itself for protection against the flames.

25. Little Bo Peep

Lyrics:

Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep,

and doesn't know where to find them;

leave them alone, And they'll come home,

wagging their tails behind them

Meaning/Origin:

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to the origins of the Little Bo Peep nursery rhyme lyrics. Some have claimed that the rhyme started in Victorian England but other say that it predates this era.

The theory of the pre-Victorian era states that the poem is about a shepherd who has lost his flock of sheep and is now seeking counsel on how to get them back.

Another interesting theory about who Bo Peep, her sheep, and their tails are is about the smuggling ring. It is said that Bo Peep are the customs men, the sheep are the smugglers, and the tails are their smuggled goods. And so you have children’s rhymes connected to piracy.

26. Little Boy Blue

Lyrics:

Little boy blue come blow your horn.

The sheep's in the meadow,

The cow's in the corn.

Where's the little boy that looks after the sheep?

Under the haystack,

Fast asleep.

Will you wake him?

No, not I

For if I do

He's sure to cry.

Meaning/Origin:

The origins of the next nursery song lyrics can be traced back to 1744 where the first version of the rhyme was published in Tommy Thumb’s Little Song Book.

But it is said that the rhyme may date further back in time, but no written proof was available.

As for the “Little Boy Blue” in the story, historians have speculated that he is based on Cardinal Wolsey.

An English Churchman, statesman, and cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, he was very popular during the Tudor period. He was also a son of an Ipswich butcher and acted as a Hayward for the livestock of his father, but this has no supporting evidence.

27. Little Miss Muffet

Lyrics:

Little Miss Muffet

Sat on a tuffet,

Eating her curds and whey.

Along came a spider,

Who sat down beside her,

And frightened Miss Muffet away!

Meaning/Origin:

Much like the many of the nursery rhymes list lyrics this rhyme’s precise origins cannot be pinpointed. Many however, believe that it could have been the work of one Dr. Thomas Muffet around the early 1600’s for his step daughter Patrice.

 was about Mary Queen of Scots who was frightened

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Dr. Thomas Muffet was both a physician and an entomologist which explains why his rhyme involved a spider. Others also think that the nursery rhyme was about Mary Queen of Scots who was frightened to religious reform by John Knox (the spider).

Both theories do not have substantial evidence of being true and most scholars have dismissed the latter theory as it may simply just be an urban legend.

28. London Bridge is Falling Down

Lyrics:

London Bridge is falling down,

Falling down, Falling down.

London Bridge is falling down,

My fair lady.

Take a key and lock her up,

Lock her up, Lock her up.

Take a key and lock her up,

My fair lady.

How will we build it up,

Build it up, Build it up?

How will we build it up,

My fair lady?

Build it up with silver and gold,

Silver and gold, Silver and gold.

Build it up with silver and gold,

My fair lady.

Gold and silver I have none,

I have none, I have none.

Gold and silver I have none,

My fair lady.

Build it up with needles and pins,

Needles and pins, Needles and pins.

Build it up with needles and pins,

My fair lady.

Pins and needles bend and break,

Bend and break, Bend and break.

Pins and needles bend and break,

My fair lady.

Build it up with wood and clay,

Wood and clay, Wood and clay.

Build it up with wood and clay,

My fair lady.

Wood and clay will wash away,

Wash away, Wash away.

Wood and clay will wash away,

My fair lady.

Build it up with stone so strong,

Stone so strong, Stone so strong.

Build it up with stone so strong,

My fair lady.

Stone so strong will last so long,

Last so long, Last so long.

Stone so strong will last so long,

My fair lady.

Meaning/Origin:

The London Bridge lyrics nursery rhyme which is also called the My Fair Lady nursery rhyme lyrics can be traced back to the 1600’s, but the exact origins are still up for debate.

the exact origins are still up for debate

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d5/Vincent_Van_Gogh_0014.jpg/625px-Vincent_Van_Gogh_0014.jpg

As for the meaning, it is also not that clear, but many scholars believe that it could be about the hardships the people of England went through to build the bridge for the River Thames. Some of these “hardships” could include child sacrifices.

Many attempts were tried until the bridge was successfully built which would be a good reason why people think that the event and the nursery rhyme may be connected.

Another theory is that it’s a rhyme pertaining to the Great London Fire of 1666. When the bridge was weakened (could it be the child sacrifices paid off?), they made the bridge stronger and better following the fire.

But who is “My Fair Lady?” Scholars believe that the woman in the rhyme could be the River Lea, or a king’s consort.

Today however the rhyme is commonly played by children on the playground with no second thought to its meaning and origins.

29. Lucy Locket

Lyrics:

Lucy Locket lost her pocket,

Kitty Fisher found it;

Not a penny was there in it,

Only ribbon round it.

Meaning/Origin:

The popular English nursery rhyme talks about two women during the 1700’s.

One, Lucy Locket was a common barmaid who got rid of her “pocket” (lover) as soon as she had finished all of his money.

After she used and left her lover, another lady by the name of Kitty Fisher a famous courtesan took the discarded man even if he no longer had any money. This was quite the scandal at the time.

Although the meaning behind the rhyme is a little crude it is still a popular nursery rhyme for many children today.

30. Mary Had a Little Lamb

Lyrics:

Mary had a little lamb,

little lamb, little lamb,

Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow.

And everywhere that Mary went,

Mary went, Mary went,

and everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.

It followed her to school one day

school one day, school one day,

It followed her to school one day, which was against the rules.

It made the children laugh and play,

laugh and play, laugh and play,

it made the children laugh and play to see a lamb at school.

And so the teacher turned it out,

turned it out, turned it out,

And so the teacher turned it out, but still it lingered near,

And waited patiently about,

patiently about, patiently about,

And waited patiently about till Mary did appear.

"Why does the lamb love Mary so?"

Love Mary so? Love Mary so?

"Why does the lamb love Mary so," the eager children cry.

"Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know."

The lamb, you know, the lamb, you know,

"Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know," the teacher did reply.

Meaning/Origin:

Mary in the instance of this nursery rhyme talks about one Mary Sawyer (Mary Tyler) who took her lamb to school after a suggestion from her brother. It so happened that on that very day at school there was a young man named John Roulstone the nephew of Reverend Lemuel Capen.

When the young man saw the sight he was enthralled and pleased with seeing the lamb that he wrote down the experience, the first 3 stanzas of the song, to be shared with the class in the schoolhouse.

There are two other popular theories surrounding the completion of this nursery rhyme. Some believe that it was started by Roulstone (the first 4 lines) and the rest (proceeding 12 lines) were written by Sara Josepha Hale. Others believe that it was all the work of Sara Hale.

31. Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

Lyrics:

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary,

How does your garden grow?

With silver bells and cockleshells

And pretty maids all in a row.

Meaning/Origin:

There are many historic explanations that are related to this nursery song’s lyrics. One of these theories is connected to Mary Queen of Scots referring to her “garden” as her reign, the “silver bells” as the Catholic cathedral bells, “cockle shells” towards her husband’s infidelity, and the “pretty maids in a row” as her ladies-in-waiting.

Another theory on the origins of this nursery rhyme involves another member of the royal court: Mary I of England.

In this theory it is said that “how does your garden grow” is talking about the lack of heirs and “pretty maids in a row” are about her miscarriages. Now that’s just mean.

There are other theories about the origin of this rhyme, but these two are the most popular.

32. Old King Cole

Lyrics:

Old King Cole was a merry old soul

And a merry old soul was he;

He called for his pipe, and he called for his bowl

And he called for his fiddlers three.

Every fiddler he had a fiddle,

And a very fine fiddle had he;

Oh there's none so rare, as can compare

With King Cole and his fiddlers three.

Meaning/Origin:

It may be impossible to trace the true identity of the actual King Cole if there really is such a monarch, but like many nursery rhymes there are theories behind the song.

the rhyme could be about a cloth merchant

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/fd/Old_King_Cole_1_-_WW_Denslow_-_Project_Gutenberg_etext_18546.jpg/180px-Old_King_Cole_1_-_WW_Denslow_-_Project_Gutenberg_etext_18546.jpg

One of those theories is the Coel Hen Theory where the rhyme could be written after a legendary Welsh king named Coel Hen which translates to “King Cole” or “Old King Cole”.

Although it could be possible there is no actual proof that the rhyme is about Coel Hen. Another theory is the Cole-Brook Theory. The theory suggests that the rhyme could be about a cloth merchant from Reading known as “Old Cole”. Again, this theory also does not have any proof to be the actual Old King Cole of the rhyme.

33. Old MacDonald Had a Farm

Lyrics:

Old MacDonald had a farm in Ohio-i-o,

And on that farm he had some dogs in Ohio-i-o,

With a bow-wow here, and a bow-wow there,

Here a bow, there a wow, everywhere a bow-wow.

Meaning/Origin:

The next on this classic nursery rhymes list is the well-loved American song Old MacDonald Had a Farm. This song does not have any meaning because it simply just talks about a farmer and the different farm animals he has and the sounds that they make.

It is a great learning tool for kids as they naturally become more familiar with domesticated farm animals and the sounds they make.

As simple as this rhyme is the first ever recorded version can be traced back all the way to the 1700’s proving that even the simplest of nursery rhymes can stand the test of time.

34. Old Mother Hubbard

Lyrics:

Old Mother Hubbard

Went to the cupboard,

To give the poor dog a bone;

When she came there,

The cupboard was bare,

And so the poor dog had none.

She went to the baker's

To buy him some bread;

When she came back

The dog was dead!

Meaning/Origin:

none of those speculations have ever been proven to be true

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Old_Mother_Hubbard_and_Her_Dog_1889.jpg

Only the first 2 out of the 15 stanzas have been included in this classic and barely changed rhyme from the early 1800’s. There was a very popular comic book published by Sarah Catherine Martin called “The Comic Adventures of Old Mother Hubbard and Her Dog” in 1805 where people believed that she took her inspiration from another work called “Dame Trot”.

She may have modeled her work after this rhyme, but they are not very similar. Due to its popularity many people have speculated the true identity of who Mother Hubbard and her dog are, but none of those speculations have ever been proven to be true.

35. One Two Buckle My Shoe

Lyrics:

One, two, buckle my shoe

Three, four, shut the door

Five, six, pick up sticks

Seven, eight, lay them straight

Nine, ten, a big fat hen

Eleven, twelve, men must delve

Thirteen, fourteen, maids are courting

Fifteen, sixteen, maids in the kitchen

Seventeen, eighteen, maids in waiting

Nineteen, twenty, my plate's empty

Meaning/Origin:

several changes have been made to the lyrics since then

https://pixabay.com/p-70828/?no_redirect

This is another favorite counting rhyme that still remains popular to this day with preschoolers.

The song was first recorded in 1805 in a book called “Songs for the Nursery”, but several changes have been made to the lyrics since then.

Even with the changes made, this song is still being used a learning tool to help young children familiarize themselves with counting numbers.

36. One Two Three Four Five

Lyrics:

One, two, three, four, five.

Once I caught a fish alive.

Six, seven, eight, nine, ten.

Then I let it go again.

Why did you let it go?

Because it bit my finger so.

Which finger did it bite?

This little finger on my right.

Meaning/Origin:

to sing the rhyme in repetition accompanied by action

https://pixabay.com/tr/matematik-%C3%B6deme-basamak-say%C4%B1-art%C4%B1-1044087/

Another counting rhyme which was first recorded in Mother Goose’s Melody in 1765 with changes made to its original lyrics.

The lyrics, nursery rhymes have remained popular despite its many changes. The original version spoke of a hare instead of a fish and only contained the first stanza, but preschoolers today are encouraged to sing the rhyme in repetition accompanied by action.

Through nursery rhymes like these children are able to learn their basic counting skills faster, which is why it’s not a surprise that the rhyme has retained its popularity.

37. Pat-a-Cake Baker’s Man

Lyrics:

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man.

Bake me a cake as fast as you can.

Roll it and pat it and mark it with "B"

And put it in the oven for Baby and me.

Meaning/Origin:

the lyrics were different back then

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Speculative_fiction/Selected_picture/33

The earliest version of this nursery rhyme was first recorded in a play by D’Urfey called The Campaigners in 1698. The song was sung by a nurse to her charges, but the lyrics were different back then.

The next time the rhyme was published it was under Mother Goose’s Melody around 1765 where the lyrics were once again changed.

Today, the modern version is played by children all around the world accompanied with hand-clapping actions between two people. By playing this game children learn coordination and social engagement useful tools in growing up.

38. Pease Porridge Hot

Lyrics:

Pease-porridge hot, Pease-porridge cold,

Pease-porridge in the pot, Nine days old;

Some like it hot, Some like it cold,

Some like it in the pot, Nine days old.

Meaning/Origin:

The origins of the rhyme are mysterious and unknown much like many of the classic nursery rhymes. In this case the lyrics simply talk about Pease porridge also called Pease pottage in Middle English.

a lump or it would be rock-hard

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/38/Queen_of_Hearts_Mother_Goose2.jpg/260px-Queen_of_Hearts_Mother_Goose2.jpg

The song is addressing that people prefer to eat their Pease porridge in different ways. Some like it hot, some like it cold, while others even like it when it’s nine days old.

Some elders also say it’s about poverty during the time, where people were forced to eat nine-day-old porridge. Could you even eat it? Either it would harden into a lump or it would be rock-hard. Whatever the status of the porridge, if you were poor, you may have had no choice but to eat it.

But for some people, it’s simply a funny thing for a child, imagining porridge that old in a pot. What do you think?

39. Pop Goes the Weasel

Lyrics:

Half a pound of tuppenny rice,

Half a pound of treacle.

That’s the way the money goes,

Pop! goes the weasel.

Up and down the City road,

In and out the Eagle,

That’s the way the money goes,

Pop! goes the weasel.

For you may try to sew and sew,

But you'll never make anything regal,

That’s the way the money goes,

Pop! goes the weasel.

Meanin/Origin:

This nursery rhyme was once a tune used in dance music in the mid-1800’s in England before the words were added to the melody.

where many variations of the song were sung and danced to

https://pixabay.com/p-48351/?no_redirect

This Old English Dance used to be performed in the royal courts because of its popularity. After being spread throughout England the rhyme made its way to America and was published in the papers as “the latest English dance.”

Since the lyrics in England were not well established it also followed suit in the US where many variations of the song were sung and danced to. Today, the most modern lyrics can be found above and is a popular rhyme for young children to sing.

40. Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat

Lyrics:

Pussy cat, pussy cat,

Where have you been?

I've been to London to see the Queen

Pussy cat, pussy cat,

What did you do there?

I frightened a little mouse under the chair

Meaning/Origin:

A popular classic nursery rhymes lyrics where there is no doubt it is about the English royalty.

The rhyme was first published in 1805 in England and the question this time is which Queen is referred to in this nursery rhyme?

considered as very popular as it has been used in mainstream media

https://pixabay.com/en/cat-kitten-pussycat-cat-dozer-620514/

There are many speculations and illustrations that the rhyme refers to Queen Elizabeth I who is famously depicted as the Queen in this rhyme. Other however believe that it was Caroline of Brunswick, neither of which have been proven.

The song is considered as very popular as it has been used in mainstream media since the 80’s in a famous children’s show.

41. Rain Rain Go Away

Lyrics:

Rain, rain, go away,

Come again another day.

Rain, rain, go away.

Come again some other day.

Little Johnny wants to play,

In the meadow by the hay.

Rain, rain, go to Spain,

Never show your face again.

Rain, rain, pour down,

But not a drop on our town.

Rain on the green grass,

and rain on the tree,

And rain on the housetop,

but not on me.

Rain, rain, go away,

Come again on washing day.

Rain, rain, go to Germany,

And remain there permanently.

Rain, rain, go away,

Come on Martha's wedding day.

Meaning/Origin:

its failure to depart due to the bad weather conditions

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rain_rain_go_away.jpg

The popular nursery rhyme and its origins have been debated by scholars for a few years. One of the best theories behind the song is that it is about the Spanish Armada and its failure to depart due to the bad weather conditions.

This has no strong proof however.

Children today sing this song when they wish for the rain to subside because they would like to go outside and play. It is a simple wishing song for bad weather to leave so that a sunny more preferable day of fun would begin.

42. Ring a Ring O Roses

Lyrics:

Ring a ring o'roses

A pocketful of posies

ah-tishoo,ah-tishoo

We all fall down.

The King has sent his daughter

To fetch a pail of water

ah-tishoo, ah-tishoo

We all fall down.

The bird upon the steeple

Sits high above the people

ah-tishoo, ah-tishoo

We all fall down.

The cows are in the meadow

Lying fast asleep

ah-tishoo, ah-tishoo

We all get up again.

Meaning/Origin:

The rhyme which was first noted in the late 1800’s is also known as “Ring Around the Roses” in modern times.

The most popular belief behind these nursery rhyme lyrics is that it was written about the Great Bubonic Plague that hit London during the 1600’s. This is about to get really disturbing.

Many believed that a person would get the plague through the smell of the dead bodies littering the streets hence the practice of “posies” under people’s noses so that they cannot smell the bodies. “Ah-tishoo, ah-shoo, we all fall down” is a reference to as soon as the person gets sick they will likely not recover but “fall down” (die) instead.

43. Rock-a-bye Baby

Lyrics:

Rock a bye baby on the treetop,

When the wind blows the cradle will rock,

When the bough breaks the cradle will fall,

And down will come baby, cradle and all.

Baby is drowsing cozy and fair

Mother sits near in her rocking chair

Forward and back the cradle she swings

And though baby sleeps he hears what she sings

From the high rooftops down to the sea

No ones' as dear as baby to me

Wee little fingers, eyes wide and bright

Now sound asleep until morning light

Meaning/Origin:

https://farm6.static.flickr.com/5624/22622594954_7418fb262f_m.jpg

This is a popular English lullaby sung by mothers and other caretakers to babies to soothe and lull them to sleep even up to this day.

One of the simplest theories about the origins of this rhyme is that it simply narrates as a mother rocks her baby to sleep and creates an ambiance that is as relaxing as a treetop breeze and once she lowers him to his crib he is already asleep “down will come baby”.

Another theory suggests that this was the first ever poem written on American soil when an immigrant witnessed a Native American mother rocking her babies to sleep gently in her arms.

But like many old rhymes there is no clear cut evidence on where the lyrics actually come from.

44. Row Row Row the Boat

Lyrics:

Row, row, row the boat

Gently down the stream

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily

Life is but a dream

Row, row, row the boat

Gently down the stream

If you see a crocodile

Don't forget to scream

Row, row, row the boat

Gently down the river

If you see a polar bear

Don't forget to shiver

Row, row, row the boat

Gently to the shore

If you see a lion

Don't forget to roar

Row, row, row the boat

Gently in the bath

If you see a spider

Don't forget to laugh

Row, row, row the boat

Gently as can be

'Cause if you're not careful

You'll fall into the sea

Meaning/Origin:

the rowing of the boat is significant to living life

https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2012/05/02/20/15/animals-46209__340.png

Any nursery rhymes lyrics list should include this rhyme of caution. The rowing of the boat is significant to living life and there are certain aspects in life that we should be wary about.

The rhyme tells children to be careful because if we do not keep vigilant we might just get into trouble or “you’ll fall into the sea”.

The song is a great way to teach young children about lessons in life that they can understand at a very young age. Today it is a popular action song done by many preschoolers around the world.

45. Rub-a-Dub Dub

Lyrics:

Rub a dub dub,

Three men in a tub,

And who do you think they be?

The butcher,

The baker,

The candlestick maker,

Turn them out, knaves all three!

Meaning/Origin:

spectacle to see three different men of different backgrounds

http://www.freepik.com/free-vector/chef-character_802255.htm#term=tray&page=1&position=7#term=tray&page=1&position=7

This rhyme was first published in 1798 with its lyrics significantly different to the popular modern version we all know today. As of the topic of this rhyme it was concluded by some scholars that they poem was talking about three respectable townsfolk with varying jobs come together during a town’s fair back in the early days.

It may have been an odd spectacle to see three different men of different backgrounds to come together which inspired the original author to write about the sight he had witnessed.

In modern times, the LGBTQ community may enjoy this rhyme quite a lot since it could be depicting a polygamous, homosexual relationship between three men!

46. Star Light, Star Bright

Lyrics:

Star light, star bright,

The first star I see tonight,

I wish I may, I wish I might,

Have the wish I wish tonight.

Meaning/Origin:

Many people believe that wishing on falling stars can help make their dreams come true even in the olden days.

This superstition is probably why this rhyme was created in the first place, in the hopes of making wishes come true.

The belief used to be centered around making wishes on falling stars, but the song now encourages wishes to be made on the first evening star seen, which is easier and more common to see compared to falling stars.

47. Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe

Lyrics:

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.

She had so many children, she didn't know what to do;

She gave them some broth without any bread;

Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.

Meaning/Origin:

Another nursery rhyme believed to have a historical origin, but has no viable proof is about the old woman who lived in a shoe.

she makes sure the line of succession is secure

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Old_Woman_who_lived_in_a_shoe-Kronheim.jpg

There are two famous figures thought to be the old woman in the rhyme. One is Queen Caroline who was the wife of King George II who had 8 children. The other is Elizabeth Vergoose of Boston who has a total of 16 children, 6 of her own and 10 who were adopted.

Why all the hullabaloo over a monarch with many children? Well, a Queen who could produce numerous offspring (an heir and a spare) is considered a good Queen by her King, the court and her people, since she makes sure the line of succession is secure.

48. Three Little Kittens

Lyrics:

Three little kittens,

They lost their mittens,

And they began to cry,

Oh, mother dear,

We sadly fear

Our mittens we have lost.

What! Lost your mittens,

You naughty kittens!

Then you shall have no pie.

Mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow.

You shall have no pie.

The three little kittens,

They found their mittens,

And they began to cry,

Oh, mother dear,

See here, see here,

Our mittens we have found.

What! Found your mittens,

You darling kittens!

Then you shall have some pie.

Mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow.

You shall have some pie.

The three little kittens,

Put on their mittens,

And soon ate up the pie;

Oh, mother dear,

We greatly fear

Our mittens we have soiled.

What! Soiled your mittens,

You naughty kittens!

Then they began to sigh,

Mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow, mee-ow.

They began to sigh.

The three little kittens,

They washed their mittens,

And hung them out to dry;

Oh mother dear,

Look here, look here,

Our mittens we have washed.

What! Washed your mittens,

You're such good kittens.

I smell a rat close by!

Hush! Hush! Hush! Hush!

Hush! Hush! Hush!

I smell a rat close by.

Meaning/Origin:

a wonderful lesson for children to learn at a young age

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:3_Kittens_Playing_in_the_Garden.jpg

The meaning behind this nursery rhyme is to emphasize the relationship behind parents and their children. It teaches children that if they are responsible in taking care of their belongings (mittens) they can be rewarded.

It is a wonderful lesson for children to learn at a young age and they often are able to enjoy the rhyme especially if read from a book with good illustrations. The rhyme has retained its popularity as it is still being taught and read to children after being first published in 1833.

49. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

Lyrics:

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,

How I wonder what you are!

Up above the world so high,

Like a diamond in the sky.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,

How I wonder what you are!

Meaning/Origin:

One of the most famous nursery rhymes lyrics is the Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. It’s popularity may be attributed to children’s fascinations with the stars above them. The lyrics were first recorded in the 19th-Century.

The tune that accompanies the lyrics is very easy to remember as it is similar to many other nursery rhymes being sung today.

The meaning behind the song emphasizes the love for the stars above, their grace, beauty, and mystery and the fact that they are very unreachable. It encourages children to think beyond the usual and to look higher in the skies. It is a great rhyme to encourage imagination.

50. The Muffin Man

Lyrics:

Do you know the Muffin Man?

The Muffin Man, the Muffin Man.

Do you know the Muffin Man?

He lives on Drury Lane.

Meaning/Origin:

Drury Lane was an actual lane in Victorian England where many of their food would be delivered right at their doorsteps. The “Muffin Man” was the one who would deliver the “muffins” which was the general term for produce and various other goods.

popular rhyme that is sung by many school children

https://pixabay.com/en/cupcake-cake-cherry-stalk-icing-309889/

The muffins that are talked about in the rhyme are not the sweet and indulging variant, but the ones referred today as English Muffins. These are actually flat pieces of bread to eat with tea.

The song is now a popular rhyme that is sung by many school children because of its catchy tune and easy to memorize lyrics. Not to mention the inclusion of the rhyme in the Shrek franchise of movies.

Our Ultimate List of Popular Nursery Rhymes

There are a lot more nursery rhymes being sung today that have many different origin stories. It is not just limited to the popular ones like the London Bridge nursery rhyme lyrics.

Some may teach valuable lessons and other may just be fun to sing along to.

Whichever may be the case for these nursery rhymes and others like it; they have been a part of our culture for many centuries and will not be lost in time. Sing along with your kids with the knowledge that the words you are singing have been passed on for many generations before you and you are now passing it on to the next generation.

Bonus Video