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Skipping-rope rhyme: Wikis


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A skipping rhyme (occasionally skipping-rope rhyme or jump-rope rhyme), is a rhyme chanted by children while skipping. Such rhymes have been recorded in all cultures where skipping is played. Examples of English-language rhymes have been found going back to at least the 17th century. Like most folklore, skipping rhymes tend be found in many different variations.


Rhymes from the 1940s

Following is a 1940s rhyme from West Los Angeles.

Charlie Chaplin went to France
To teach the ladies how to dance.
First the heel, then the toe,
Then the splits, and around you go!
Salute to the Captain,
Bow to the Queen,
And turn your back on the Nazi submarine!
Not last night but the night before
Forty-four robbers came knocking at my door!
Call for the doctor, call for the nurse,
And call for the lady with the alligator purse!
In came the doctor, in came the nurse,
And in came the lady with the alligator purse.
Out went the doctor, out went the nurse,
And out went the lady with the alligator purse!
Spanish dancer, turn around,
Spanish dancer, touch the ground.
Spanish dancer, do a high kick,
Spanish dancer, get out of town quick!
All in together, birds of a feather:
January, February, March, April, May, etc. (each child had to jump in during the month they were born)
Ice cream soda, Delaware Punch,
Tell me the name of my honey-bunch.
A, B, C, etc.
. . . And don't forget the RED HOT PEPPERS (and the turners would turn the rope as fast as they could).

Rhymes from the 1950s

Some rhymes are intended to count the number of jumps the skipper takes without stumbling. These rhymes can take very simple forms, such as this chant collected in London in the 1950s:

Big Ben strikes one,
Big Ben strikes two,
Big Ben strikes three,

Counting rhymes

Other counting chants are more sophisticated, beginning with a rhyme and then counting the number of jumps to answer a question posed in the last line.

Dressed in yella
Went downstairs to kiss her fella.
She made a mistake
And kissed a snake.
How many doctors will it take?
1! 2! 3! 4! (etc.)

An Australian version of this rhyme was very popular in the 1960s

Dressed in yella
Went to meet her handsome fella.
On the way her undies busted
How many people were disgusted?
1! 2! 3! 4! (etc.)

Sadistic twists

Another rhyme with a definite sadistic twist. The fifth line is not said in the same rhythm as the preceding four, but is instead much faster.

Had a little sports car,
Ran around the cor-(skipper jumps out, and turners continue the syllable until they reenter)-ner
and SLAMMED on the brakes!
Policeman caught me and put me in jail
All I had was gingerale
How many bottles did I drink?
Goes, 10! 20! 30! 40!
Had a little car car,
Ran around the cor-(skipper jumps out, and turners continue the syllable until they reenter)-ner
and slammed on the brakes!
Policeman caught me

Put me on his knee, Asked me a question Will you marry me? Yes, No, Maybe So (repeated)

Another skipping rhyme, but is more modern. Once the alphabet finishes, kids continue with numbers until skipper catches rope. It is natural for kids to use the letter that the skipper lost on and to use it to find someone's name following the rule of either best friend or boyfriend, depending on what is chosen in the beginning.
Ice cream, Soda pop, cherry on top,
Who's your best friend, let's find out;
Goes A! B! C!


Ice cream soda, cherry on top
Who's your boyfriend/girlfriend, I forgot;
Is it an A! B! C!


Ice cream sundae, banana split
[Name of jumper]'s got a boyfriend/girlfriend,
Who is it?
A! B! C!

Skipping rhymes don't always have to be rhymes, however. They can be games, such as a game called, "School." In "Kindergarten" (the first round), all skippers must run through rope without skipping. In "First Grade", all skippers must skip in, skip once, and skip out without getting caught in the rope, and so on. Also, there is "Mouse Trap", where there is a special pattern, and players must run through rope without getting caught. If caught, the jumper caught must hold the rope.

Nonsense rhymes

Many rhymes consist of pure nonsense, often with a suggestion of naughtiness:

Fudge, fudge, call the judge,
Mama had a baby.
Wrap it up in tissue paper,
Stick it in the elevator.
Mama called the doctor,
The doctor called the nurse,
The nurse called the lady with the alligator purse.
'Mumps' said the doctor,
'Mumps,' said the nurse,
'Mumps' said the lady with the alligator purse.

This rhyme was heard in Athol, MA in the 1950's:

Fudge, fudge, call the judge,
Mama's got a new-born baby
It's not a boy
It's not a girl
It's just an ordinary baby
Wrap it up in tissue paper,
Send it down the elevator,
First floor - Miss! [skipper to catch to rope between legs]
Second floor -Miss! [Continues until skipper fails]


Fudge, Fudge, call the judge,
(Girl's name) is having a baby.
Wrap it up in tissue paper,
Send it down the escalator.
Boy, Girl, Twins, Triplets. (last line repeated until jumper fails)


Three, six, nine
The goose drank wine
The monkey chewed tobacco on the telephone line
The line, it broke
The goose got choked
And they all went to heaven in a little rowboat.

And another:

Monkey, monkey, chew the butter
See my buttocks, they is better
Batter, patooda, patooda, monkey monkey
Look, there's a gerbil, I'm rolling up and down
60 Minutes, where are you,
Here's an expose for you!
Hippie-da-da! Hippie-da-da!

And another:

Fatty and Skinny went to bed
Fatty let a fart and Skinny went dead
Fatty called the doctor and the doctor said:
"If Fatty lets another fart we'll all be dead!"

And another:

Liar, liar, pants on fire,
Your belt's hanging on the telephone wire!


Liar, liar, pants on fire,
Your nose is long as a telephone wire!

Yet another variation:

Liar, liar, pants on fire,
Hanging by a thread on a telephone wire!

International rhymes

Pretty Little Dutch Girl

"Pretty Little Dutch Girl" is an example of an international rhyme. If one sings it, it is generally sung to the tune of "A Sailor Went to Sea".

Historical rhymes

Other rhymes are highly topical, and sometimes survive long after the events that inspired them have disappeared from the headlines. Perhaps the most notorious rhyme of this type is one that began circulating during the 1892 trial of Lizzie Borden:

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks,
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.

Variations of this following rhyme, a wordplay on "influenza," were heard around the time of the 1918 flu pandemic:

I had a little bird,
And its name was Enza.
I opened the window
And in-flew-enza.[1][2]

Offensive rhymes

Sometimes, rhymes have been known to offend people of different race and nationalities. This one offends Asians intentionally:

My parents have pretty eyes
My mother's Chinese
My father's Japanese
My brother's Taiwanese
My sister's Vietnamese

Another one that also intentionally targets Asians:

dirty knees
Criss cross, duck sauce
Why don't you just get lost! (repeated until jumper slips up)

See also



  1. ^ Lynch, Eileen A. (November/December 1998). "The Flu of 1918". The Pennsylvania Gazette. University of Pennsylvania.  
  2. ^ March, Peyton C. (September 4, 1932). "General March's Narrative: Glimpses of Woodrow Wilson". The New York Times: p. XX3, Special Features section.  

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