Dorothy wrote: "This is great! I have been searching for years for this little "rhyme" our Dad taught us, to find it's origin, if anyone else ever heard it, etc. Everyone in our family can recite it and it makes no sense at all! If you are able to locate any information on this rhyme, please let me know. A granddaughter said she found a reference to it as a Welsh nursery rhyme. Have you ever heard of it! Love to hear from you."

I've been able to find reference to similar rhymes to Dorothy's that I'll post below. If anyone has ever heard of Dorothy's version (or would like to add any others - or if you know anything about the origin) please let us know. –Mama Lisa


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.


Here are a bunch of these "One-ery Two-ery" rhymes (most, but not all) from The Counting-out Rhymes of Children (1888) by Henry Carrington Bolton. Bolton thought it came from the Romany language of the gypsies. You can see that there are endless minor variations and that they have been recited in England, Canada and the U.S...


Note.--In the following Group we have brought together the large number of variants of the doggerel derived from the Romany…

One-ery, two-ery, hick-ary, hum,
Fillison, follison, Nicholson John.
Quever, quauver, Irish Mary,
Stinkarum, stankarum, buck !

Halliwell's " Nursery Rhymes," 1842.

Used in Somersetshire in counting out the game of "pee-wip," or " pee-wit."

One-ery, two-ery, ickery, Ann,
Phillisy, phollisy, Nicholas John,
Queebe, quawby, Irish Mary,
Sinkum, sankum, Johnny-co, buck!

Cambridge, Mass.

Winnery, ory, accory, han,
Phillisy, phollisi, Nicholas, jam ;
Queby, quorby, Irish Mary,
Sink, sank, sock !

A.J. Ellis, England.

Onery, ory, ickory, Ann,
Filsy, falsy, Nicolas John.
Queby, quaby, Irish Mary,
Stickeram, stackeram, buck !

R. G. H., Montreal, Canada.

Iry, ury, ickery, Ann,
Phillison, phollison, Nicholas John,
Queby, quaby, Irish Mary,
Stinkelum, stankelum, buck !
Oneery, youery, ickery, Ann,
Philacy, pholicy, Nicholas John.
Queeby, quauby, Irish Mary,
Tinkerlum, tankerlum, buck !


Wunnery, youery, ickery, Ann,
Fillisy, follisy, Nicholas, John,
Hiram, Skyram, Virgil Byram,
Back House, boo !

Masonic, Maine, 1855.

Onery, ury, ikery a,
Fillisy, follisy, Nicholas Jay,
Queby, quoby, Irish Mary,
Stinkilum, stankilum, buck!

Masonic, Maine, 1840.

Eerey, orey, ikerey Ann,
Phillison, phollison, Nicholas John,
Queby, quoby, English navy,
Stingulum, stangulum, buck !

Masonic, Penn.

Onery, twory, hickory, Ann ;
Phillicy, phollicy, Nicholas, John ;
Queevy, quavy, English navy,
Stringle'em, strangle'em, buck!

Masonic, U. S. A.

Query, ory, ickery, Ann,
Phillis and Phollis, Nicholas John,
Quevy, quavy, English navy,
Stringle'em, strangle'em, buck.
One, two, three; out goes she.

Masonic, U. S. A.

Onerey, ory, ickory, Ann,
Phillison, phallison, Nicholas John,
Quevy, quavy, English navy,
Stingelum, stangelum, buck !

Masonic, Indiana.

Ery, iry, ickery, Ann,
Phillicy, phollicy, Nicholas John,
Quever, quiver, English niver,
Stincklum, stanklum, buck!

Masonic, Conn.

Winnery, orrey, hickory, Ann,
Phillis and Phallas, Nicholas John,
Quevy, quavey, English navy,
Stinclum, stanclum, buck !

Masonic, Ohio.

Onery, ory, ickery, Ann,
Filisan, folisan, Nicholas John.
Quivy, quavy, English navy,
Stinkelum, stankelum, buck !

M. B., Arkansas.

Onery, two-ery, ickery, ack,
Fillicy, fallacy, Nicholas Jack ;
Queevy, quavy, Irish Mary,
Stringelum. strangelum, buck!

W. H. E., Maine.

One-wee, you-wee, ick-wee, aye;
Philison, Phalison, Nicholas, Jay.
Quee-bee, quaw-bee, arrish way,
Stringam, strangam, out!

S. 1V. Pennsylvania.
From Frank Cowan's "American Story Book," Greensburg, Pa, 1881, p. 337.

Hickery, hoary, hairy, Ann,
Busybody over span,
Pare, pare, virgin mare,
Pit, pout, out one.

"Notes and Queries" x., 368. Guernsey.

Ury, urry, angry Ann,
Mulberry wax and tyry tan ;
Ink, stink, stidlum, stew,
Nobody out but barely you.

West Va.

One-a-manury, awkry, Ann ;
Mulberry wax and tarry tan ;
Hickory, dickory, algry, more,
Dick slew algry slum.
Hucker, pucker, peelers gum ;
Francis, Phillis, Nicholas, Ann, buck!


Thanks and Acknowledgements

Thanks to Dorothy Grant for contributing this rhyme! Thanks to Barbara Vaughan for contributing her grandfather's version.