Counting-Out Rhymes

We’re thrilled to add counting-out rhymes to our collection of English nursery rhymes whenever we come across them. Counting out rhymes help choose who goes first in a game, or who’s “It”. I found these rhymes below in a book of games called What Shall We Do Now?: Five Hundred Games and Pastimes (1907) by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. It was just posted at Project Gutenberg. I modernized the language of the author’s explanation about counting-out rhymes. It’s from an old book.

To decide who is to begin a game there are various counting-out rhymes. All the players stand in a circle, surrounding the one who counts. At each pause in the rhyme (which occurs where there’s a line in the versions below) the person counting-out touches the other players in turn (usually on the fist) until the end is reached. The player on whom the last word in the rhyme falls is to begin the game. This is one rhyme:

Eena-a, | deen-a, | dine-a, | dust, |
Cat’ll-a, | ween-a, | wine-a, | wust, |
Spin, | spon, | must | be | done, |
Twiddlum, | twaddlum, | twenty-one. |
O- | U- | T | spells | out. |

Others:

Intery, | mintery, | cutery | corn, |
Apple | seed | and | apple | thorn; |
Wine, | brier, | limber | lock, |
Five | geese |in | a | flock; |
Sit and sing | by a spring |
O- | U- | T | and | in | again. |

*****

One-ery, | two-ery, |
Ziccary | zan; |
Hollowbone, | crack-a-bone, |
Ninery, | ten; |
Spittery | spot, |
Must | be | done, |
Twiddledum, | twaddledum,
Twenty-one.

*****

Ring | around | a ring-pot, |
One spot | two spot | three spot | san |
Bob-tailed | winnie-wack | tittero | tan |
Ham | Scram |
Fortune | man |
Singum | sangum | Buck! |

Feel free to share any counting-out rhymes you know in the comments below! I’d love to learn more from the English and non-English speaking world.

Enjoy!
Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Friday, February 5th, 2010 at 11:55 am and is filed under Books & Stories, Counting-out Rhymes, Countries & Cultures, England, English, Games Around the World, Languages, Nursery Rhymes, United Kingdom, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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