This is the saying of the giant in Jack in the Beanstalk...

Fee, Fie, Fo, Fum - American Children's Songs - The USA - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Intro Image


Here's the version from Andrew Lang's Jack in the Beanstalk from his Red Fairy Book, with some of the text around it in the story:

...a voice like thunder cried out;

'Fe, fa, fi-fo-fum,
I smell the breath of an Englishman.
Let him be alive or let him be dead,
I'll grind his bones to make my bread.'

'Wife,' cried the Giant, 'there is a man in the castle. Let me have him for breakfast.'...

Here's the version from The Only True Mother Goose Melodies (published and copyrighted in Boston in 1833 by Munroe & Francis):

Fa, Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum!

Fa, Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum!
I smell the blood of an Englishman.
Be he live or be he dead,
I'll grind his bones to make me bread.


"Fee fi fo fum" has come to be the general saying of giants in English. Let us know about any sayings of giants you might know in other languages. Please email them to me. Thanks! -Mama Lisa



Thanks to Jason Pomerantz for the recording.

Thanks and Acknowledgements

The illustration comes from the story of Jack and the Beanstalk in The National Nursery Book, as does the specific wording of the first saying above.

I remember it as "Fee, fi, fo, fum".

Shakespeare used a variation on it in his King Lear play. It was said by Edgar, son of Gloucester, in Act 3, scene 4:

Fie, foh, and fum!
I smell the blood of a British man.

Thanks to Holly for sharing this rhyme!