Barbara Vaughan wrote:

Here is yet another version of the "onery, twoery" counting out rhyme. My grandfather taught it to us. He was from County Tyrone in Northern Ireland. He came to the US as an adult, and lived in Philadelphia. I don't know where he learned it, but Ireland seems more likely as adults don't usually learn counting out rhymes.

Onery, twoery, dickery, Davey
Horrible, crackable, ninery, Lavey
Discontented American time
Humbledy, bumbledy, number nine.


John Smith wrote:

"My grandfather was born in 1899 and lived in Cushing, Oklahoma. I believe his parents who ran in the Oklahoma land run of 1889 were from Kansas and Iowa.

I learned it as...

Onery, Twoery, Zickery, Zin,
Alabone, Crackabone, Terry, Terry, Ten.

(I may have misheard some of it as I was very young.)"


Gary Terrill wrote, "From my grandfather Kentucky, USA pre-1900..."

Onery Twoery Dickery Davy
Hollow Bone Cracka Bone
Linery Lavy
Decimo Dan American Tom
Humblety Bumelty

JoAnn Massad wrote: "My step-grandfather was born in the 1890's in western New York State. He taught me this version in 1969, when I was 10. I wrote it down and kept it in my scrapbook.

Onery twoery zachary zen
Break a bone crack a bone tillibry ten
Eendix teendix tetherdix featherdix fibdix
Eenbum fiddles and teenbumfiddles
and tetherbumfiddles and jenx!

JoAnn 😀"

This rhyme can be found in Games for the Playground, Home, School and Gymnasium (1909) by Jessie H. Bancroft.

Here's what Bancroft wrote about Counting-Out Rhymes, "This is a very popular method among children. One player in the group, generally self-appointed, but sometimes chosen by popular consent, does the 'counting out.' He repeats a rhyme or jingle, touching one player on the chest for each accent of the verses. He always begins with himself and then touches the first one on his left, and so on around the circle or group in regular order. Any player to whom falls the last word is 'out'; that is, he is eliminated from the succeeding counting and is not to be 'It,' generally a matter for rejoicing. Such a player steps out of the group at once. This counting is continued, the verses being repeated over and over, until only two players are left, when the formula is again gone over, the one to whom the last word falls being free, and the remaining player 'It.' When a verse is not long enough to go around the entire group, the player at his discretion may lengthen it by adding 'One, two, three, -out goes he!' (or she); or 'O-U-T spells out!'"


Nicholas Marcantonio wrote:

"I'm sending you the Southern Version of 'Onery Twoery' my grandmother taught me as a child:

Onery twoery zero zan
Hollow bone crackle bone
Wheel barrow back stone
Dollary ten.

I am 53 years old and my mother was 93 when she passed in 2010, so it was probably a version made up from someone's memory. My grandmother and mother grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. I reside in Alabama at this time. I am amazed at the wonders of what the internet allows us to find.

I was told it was an old Indian way to count to ten. My maternal grandmother taught it to me not sure why I was thinking of it and was amazed to find your site."


Pat Sims wrote from the state of Washington:

"The version of this rhyme I was taught goes like this:

Onery, twoery, tickery, tee
alabone, crackabone, lambbone, lee
ping, pong musketdong
tiddlo, taddlo, twenty-one

It was taught me by my father who was born in 1902. I assumed he was taught it by his mother but perhaps he learned it on the school grounds as a childrens game of some sort.

I appreciated finding your website that explained more about this funny little rhyme."

Thanks and Acknowledgements

Thanks to Barbara Vaughan for contributing her grandfather's version of Onery, Twoery, and thanks to Nicholas Marcantonio for sending his grandmother's version from the South. Thanks to Pat Sims for contributing a version from Washington. Thanks to John Smith for sharing his grandparents' version. Thanks to Gary Terrill and JoAnn Massad for sharing their grandfather's versions!