The Many Versions of Frog Went A Courtin’

I’ve been having a lot of fun researching the history of the popular song Frog Went A Courtin’. There are many versions. It originated in Scotland over 450 years ago. There’s also a well-known British version called A Frog He Would A-wooing Go, which I’ve written about previously.

This song has also traveled around Canada and throughout the US. Along the way, many versions have cropped up – some with different tunes and names. One is called King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O, while another is called Sing Song Kitty (Won’t You Ki-Me-O).

I think it would be interesting to collect and post different versions on Mama Lisa’s World. If you know any versions of King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O or Sing Song Kitty, or any interesting variations of Frog Went A Courtin, please comment below.

We always welcome recordings if you’d like to sing it!



Picture of Frog Went A Courtin'

This article was posted on Saturday, May 12th, 2007 at 6:06 pm and is filed under A Frog He Would A-wooing Go, American Kids Songs, Australia, British Children's Songs, Canada, Canadian Children's Songs, Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, England, English, Frog Went A courtin', King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O, Languages, Questions, Sing Song Kitty, There Was a Frog Lived in the Well, United Kingdom, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

143 Responses to “The Many Versions of Frog Went A Courtin’”

  1. Lisa Says:

    Thanks for the info Dawn!

  2. Jennie Says:

    My mother, who was from Florida, taught me a variation of this song. We have musical influences from Florida, south Georgia and Missouri. So, I have no idea of its origins; as a child, I thought it was “our” family folk song…..who knew!

    “There was a rat that lived in the mill
    Rigdom bullie dimmo kimo.
    If he hasn’t moved away he’s living there still
    Rigdom bullie dimmo kimo.

    Kimo karo deltie karo,
    Kimo karo kimo.
    Scrim scram pockiedillie there was a rigdom,
    Rigdom bullie dimmo kimo.”

    The tune sounds very close to that heard in the first minutes of the movie, “Sgt. York.”

  3. Lisa Says:

    Thanks for sharing Jennie! Would you like to sing it for us? :)

  4. Booboo Kitty Says:

    This song isn’t any fun unless it’s FROGGY went a courtin’, not FROG. :) I think there’s some songs that got mixed together. All that kimeo, kitty whatever doesn’t go with the Froggy stuff at all. Have y’all heard Tex Ritter sing it? That’s how the song is meant to sound.

  5. Petroform Says:

    Good morning,

    My mother (a first year baby boomer) learned some lyrics from her first boyfriend, and she would sing them to me during my childhood (1970s). Reflecting on the rhythm, I think she may have been learning some square dancing calls, but may have been altered by the children, much like the game ‘telephone.’ She sang:

    There once was a frog who lived in a pool.

    Sing song kitchy catchy ki me o.

    He lived there just like a fool.

    Sing song kitchy catchy ki me o.

    Marrow dymee, Darrow dymee, Woymes, woymes, subabubble, ticktack, kitchy catchy ki me o.

  6. Mary Says:

    My dad would sing this song to me around 1953 and I thought he said it was an Indian song (shrug). Anyway, nonsensical lyrics but it stuck with me. Here it is –

    kemo kimo daro war
    muhi muho, a rum stick a fumadiddle
    soup back, piddly wink
    in come a nippy cat,
    sing song Polly
    won’t you kimeo

  7. L Breed Says:

    My sister asked me if I remember this song our father sang many decades ago. I did numerous google searches and they kept leading me back here; so I wonder if this has some connection to this collection.

    Kyro kyro lundun kyro. Kyro kyro karo. Strim stram polly diddle, rolly rolly rigdum. Rigdum mooly metta kyro.

    Any ideas?

  8. Lisa Says:

    L Breed – It sounds like a version of the refrain to Froggie Went a-courtin.

    Here’s the refrain from the version in the original post:

    Kimaneero down to Cairo, Kimaneero Cairo.
    Shaddle-addle-adababa, ladababa linktum.
    Rinktum body minchee cambo.

    If you read through the comments you’ll find other variations.

  9. Katie W Says:

    My Dad taught us something similar, but I never heard anything about a frog.

    Kemo, kimo, daro war, tomahe, tomaho, tomarumadicapolildiddle, set back pollywog, lickem up nickyjack, johnny with the bootjack, sing a song sally won’t you kymeo

  10. Lisa Says:

    I love versions like this Katie! Would you like to chant it for us? We always welcome recordings (everyone)!

  11. Julia Says:

    My family has been singing a version my great grandmother taught us- she immigrated from Scotland and we grew up in CA. I am now teaching my own grandson. I did my best to write it phonetically… As far as I know, this is the first time anyone in my family has attempted to write it- in over 100 years!

    ‘Oh a frog lived in a well,
    See I kitchy kitchy Kie Me Oh.
    And a Merry Mouse in a mill,
    See I kitchy kitchy Kie Me oh.

    Keemo Kie Mo Derr a mo.
    Ma hoe. Ma Hie.

    Rumperstickle Pumpernickel

    Soup Back Penny Metal Lip Cat Sing
    Cat see I kitchy kitchy Kie Me Oh!

  12. Lisa Says:

    I love it Julia! Would anyone in your family like to record it for us? :) Mama Lisa

  13. Vicki F. Says:

    The version of “Froggy went a courtin’ ” I was taught was the same as William Martine’s, but there was one more verse, bringing an ending to the song. After Molly Mouse refuses…
    “Well, that’s it Clyde, better hit the road – farewell, goodbye
    Well, that’s it Clyde, better hit the road – farewell, goodbye
    Well, that’s it Clyde, better hit the road – you ain’t no frog, you’re a horny toad! Farewell, so long, goodbye.”

  14. Frog Went A Courtin by John Langstaff - Slap Happy Larry Says:

    […] The Many Versions Of Frog Went A-Courtin from Mama Lisa […]

  15. Antonio Says:

    Hello Lisa,
    while doing my reserches on old folk music, I stumbled upon your site.
    Having seen the song posted here, I think this is another good one, with roughly the same wording: Uncle Rat – Sing san kitty, won’t you kimeo.
    The song is dated 1939, is Sung by Charles Fulton and the original acetate can be heard at the Library of Congress website:

    Words are as follow:

    Oh, Uncle Rat
    He wanted a wife
    Sing song Kitty
    Can’t you kimeo
    Well, he jumped on
    A horse and he rid for life
    Sing song Kitty
    Can’t you kimeo.

    Kimo, kimo, derowall, mahai
    Mahao, rumstisckydumadiddle
    Sometimes pennywinkel
    Lupdown, nipcat, setbag
    Sing song Kitty
    Can’t you kimeo.

    Oh, the rats
    Are digging in despair
    Sing song Kitty
    Can’t you kimeo
    Without a flannel shirt
    To wear
    Sing song Kitty
    Can’t you kimeo
    Kimo, kimo, derowall, mahai
    Mahao, rumstisckydumadiddle
    Sometimes pennywinkel
    Lupdown, nipcat, setbag
    Sing song Kitty
    Can’t you kimeo.

    Oh, Uncle Rat
    He wanted a wife
    Sing song Kitty
    Can’t you kimeo
    Well, he jumped on
    A horse and he rid for life
    Sing song Kitty
    Can’t you kimeo
    Kimo, kimo, derowall, mahai
    Mahao, rumstisckydumadiddle
    Sometimes pennywinkel
    Lupdown, nipcat, setbag
    Sing song Kitty
    Can’t you kimeo.

    He woke up dead
    Now what about that
    Oh, Uncle Rat
    He wanted a wife
    Sing song Kitty
    Can’t you kimeo
    Kimo, kimo, derowall, mahai
    Mahao, rumstisckydumadiddle
    Sometimes pennywinkel
    Lupdown, nipcat, setbag
    Sing song Kitty
    Can’t you kimeo.


  16. Courtney Says:

    Hello! This version was sung to me by my grandma, who was born in Indiana in the early 50s:

    There once was a frog that lived by the spring
    Sing song Polly won’t you Ki Me Oh.
    He had such a cold he could not sing.
    Sing song Polly won’t you Ki Me Oh.
    Key mo, Ki mo, there beware, Me-I, Meow.
    with a rump steak pomadoodle, soup back paddle, in come-a nip-cat,
    Sing song Polly won’t you Ki Me Oh.

  17. Nathan Golden Says:

    This is a snatch of verse my grandmother sang to us (born in Central Virginia in the late ‘teens on a dirt farm):

    Was an old man came ridin by; said old man your horse gonna die-if he dies I’ll tan his skin; if he don’t die I’ll ride’m again – rat catch a cold come Cairo! Cairo- ime, a-Dario-ime, shoot back a pennynickle, up come a nitchyCat, sing a song Polly wontchu carry me home! Then there was a verse with a bullfrog in a spring, with such a cold he could not sing…,

  18. Lisa Says:

    That’s great! Would you like to record it for us?

  19. Sheila Roberts Says:

    I am 58 years old- my grandmother taught me a version of this song- she was born and raised in Eastern Ky. I’ll try to write down the lyrics:

    There was a frog lived in the pond,
    Sing song kitty ketchie kimio
    He was so fat he could not swim
    Sing song kitty ketchie kimio.

    Makimmio makimio ma deario
    ma ware ma hi ma ho ma income
    Sally single, sometimes pennywinkle, instep muskrat,
    bigger than a big cat. Sing song kitty ketchie kimio.

    I’m unsure if there’s more to it, that’s all I remember. Since it was sung to me, I tried to just write out the nonsense words as they sound.
    Thanks for letting me share.
    I used to have a cassette of her singing it, if I can find that, I’ll send it also.

  20. David Harrison Says:

    This version shares common elements with R. Kelly’s recollection. My dad sang this in the 40’s so I can’t be sure my memory is entirely accurate or that my phonetic spelling does justice to the words. He prefaced the song with a chant of the opening words, delivered in one breath, always to my delight, then launched into the song.

    Sayro jayro stripe-back pennywinkle
    foddle-doodle yellow bug rinktum pollywog skymbo.

    Mr. Frog went courting and he did ride,
    walchum polly won’tcha kie me,
    He asked Miss Toad to be his bride,
    walchum polly won’tcha kie me,

    Kimbo kyo flimbo flyo kimbo kyo flyo
    Walchum polly pennywinkle doodle little booger,
    Walchum polly won’tcha kie me.

  21. Sallly Newell Says:

    My father sang an abbreviated version of this when I was young (long ago), and I have always remembered it because it was such nonsense. Only when I found the Froggy song in a folk tunes book in the mid 70s did I realize that he’d been singing a version of the refrain similar to Antonio’s (11/2/2019).

    Karo, kimo medairy-o,
    Mehom meho
    Rumastickle bumadiddle
    Sudapacka pennywinkle,
    Nipkin, catnip
    Sing a song,
    Kitchy kitchy kimeo.

  22. James Doye Says:

    Just discovered this site, sorry if I’m joining in with a conversation very late. My mum was born in 1950 London England, and her mother was born 1920s in Cambridgeshire. She had a version of this poem or something similar that no-one outside my family seems to have ever heard of. We were taught it as children. Any ideas about where it could have come from? (She never would have been to America!?)
    There was a little frog, who lived in a well,
    with a rig dig bumminary kimo
    Naro skeemo skeemo skaro
    Shrimp shrimp shrumadiddle
    Ne’er a bummarig
    with a rig dig bumminary kimo
    Eena deena abba dasher
    Eye sha ru sha
    Om pom tosh.

    I have no idea about spelling, so tried to write it out phonetically!

  23. Nana Says:

    My Grammie used to sing this while she was cooking.
    Froggie went a’courtin’ and he did ride, sing song kitty kitty kimeo
    Kimeo kitty kimeo kitty fetch a little mousey on his knee say we little mousey will ya marry me
    Sing song kitty kitty kimeo
    I have taught my children and grandchildren this song over the years.
    Now with the internet I think I understand why there are do many version of basically the same song. It’s like a on going round of the game telephone. Each person passing on what they think the words are. LOL
    We all treasure our memories of when we first heard it sung. For me it was a little Norwegian lady in her 70’s making food for her grandchildren. For my children and grandchildren it will be me singing and dancing to the song. Who knows where it will go next. ❤️ Sing song kitty kitty kimeo ❤️

  24. Ernie Says:

    Love it every time I watch Sgt. York and I hear Froggy went a’courtein I remember my uncle Sonny. He would sing these old mountain songs around the camp fire at his mining claim in the Sierra Nevada’s this was in the late 50’s early 60’s. He sang the Tex Ridder version, and many other songs. He picked them up in the logging camps when he was a young man. Lost him in 1970 way to young.

  25. Dan K Says:

    Hello. I’m really struggling with an ear worm for this song. I’m from Philadelphia, I saw a response posted from 4 years ago from someone named Kelly who mentioned the version I’m familiar with.

    Forgive me for not knowing any of the actual words, I only know the one part which is…

    Ring a ling a lario
    Way down yonder at the hollow tree
    an owl and a bat and a bumble bee
    Ring A ling a ling a lario

    All I remember is it was on a record that I had when I was a little kid, so figure on early 1980’s.

    This is a great site and seems like a great community here. Is there any chance anyone knows what I’m talking about and can lead me finding this song? LOL.

    I know it’s a long shot but I have to try at this point. :D

  26. Chuck Says:

    My mothers went
    Ciro Faro, captain Kyro, ominacle, bomisacle, idabodum, rinktum Crico.

    We grew up on ladys and gentlemen, hobos and tramps, and many other wise tales and rhymes.

    I believe all are versions of verbal history passed down before we had all this technology. Just think, only 70 or 80 years ago, it wasn’t even common for rural folks to have an abundance of paper laying around.

    There is an actual recorder folk song, but couldn’t tell you where to look, other than its on youtube, that is about getting a boat / for her husband/ etc. recorded in the 30’s that uses many of the mentioned lingo or similar, that has nothing to do with the frog.

    Thanks for bringing back memories.

  27. Jo Ann Zavala Says:

    My dad sang…

    Kimo kay ma dear row row, rear like a zip cat, kimo kay ma dear row row, and / or Sing song, Polly, won’t you ki me, oh.
    I tied my dog up to a stump, his head swelled and his tail popped off, they went to bed but it was no use, their feet hung out for a chickens roost.

    I cannot find the version my dad sang anywhere

  28. Corien Says:

    This has been a hoot to read! I owe my dearly departed dad a big apology for thinking he was a senile old fool at the age of 35 when I probably heard his version for the first time. Sadly, I can’t remember much of what he sang but he always started off, “Keemo Kimo, in the land of pharaoh, pharaoh; came a rat-trap, pollywinkle … [more nonsense which may have been the words others above have mentioned] … won’t you ki-me-oh” I do recall nearly wetting myself laughing every time he sang it. My dad could never get “normal” song lyrics right even if he tried, so this was just more of his nonsense to me (but I loved it!) I was missing him today and googled in the off-chance it led anywhere. What a surprise! By the way, my dad was born and raised in rural Sacramento, but may have learned the song from his dad who was born in Nebraska and served in the navy during WWII. Goodness knows where in his travels he may have learned it. Anyway, this was wonderful to read. Thank you everyone for sharing!

  29. Cort Says:

    Yeah this is a portion of the “nonsense words” part of Froggy Went A Courtin’ I remember my mother singing me when I was a child (her family was originally from panhandle Florida, she would have probably learned it in the 1940s from her parents who grew up there in the 1920s). Some of the versions here sound pretty close to what I remember which isn’t much unfortunately:

    Kaimo Nero Captain Keiro
    (something something) won’t ya kai-mi-o

    also something like

    Sedjewedjebacky he did ride

  30. Carol Fawcett Says:

    The version that my mom taught us was :

    There was a frog lived in a well.
    Sing song Kitty, Katchie, Kimeo.
    He was so fat that he could not swim,
    Sing song Kitty, Katchie, Kimeo.

    Me hi, me ho, me Dario, me where.
    Me hi, me ho, me instep Sally single,
    Sometime Penny Winkle, sometime Muskrat, bigger than a big cat.
    Sing Song Kitty, Katchie, Kimeo.

    Very interesting the many twists and versions on this song.

    This is all I remember, though seeing some of the other versions I think there was more to the version my mom sang to us. My other was raised in Bath, Maine.

  31. Phil Says:

    Another frog song we learned around 1960 had s chorus like this: break a break a break a break co ax… I would love to find that one! It’s been stuck in my head for 60 years…

    The Brothers Four had a version of “Frogg” that was pretty good.

  32. Herb Says:

    It’s wonderful that there are so many recollections of this song. When I was in elementary school in the early 60’s we had a songbook that our class would use to select songs to sing. I liked this song – it was fun to sing – but I don’t remember all of it. What I do remember goes like this:

    There was a frog lived in the lake
    Sing song kitty won’t you ki-me-oh
    But he got swallowed by a big black snake
    Sing song kitty won’t you ki-me-oh
    Ma key-me-oh, ma ki-me-oh
    Ma dearie oh ma wear
    Me high me ho
    Me in comes Sally Single
    Sometimes Penny Winkle
    In stepped Muskrat
    Bigger than a tom cat
    Sing song kitty won’t you ki-me-oh?

    Thanks to everybody for sharing your thoughts. Stay safe and happy!

  33. Andy Repin Says:

    I have a russian version.
    see in the bottom

  34. Bob White Says:

    I have been writing my memories of the early 1950s in Northern New York. My friend and I used to say (not sing), “Kemo Kimo Darrow wah, me-hi, me-ho, me rum-side pumma-diddle soup-pap piddy-winkle. I never knew where it came from, so I Googled the start of the phrase and found this site. Thanks, everyone for the memories.

  35. Karri Says:

    My grandparents taught us this poem (chant) and everyone in every generation of our family has learned it. It’s funny how many different variations there are that have been passed down from many different families and many generations.

    Kemo, kimo, del-oh-why, rum-a-diddle, fum-a-diddle, Sue-eyed pennywinkle, cat with a spring bat, Billy with a bootjack, sing a song kitty, won’t you ki-meo.

  36. Bridgit Says:

    My grandmother, who was born in 1919 in Letcher County, KY sang a variation on this. Hers was “Two Little Frogs Fell in a Well” and I always loved it, but the only part of the chorus I remember was:

    Take a little bit of snakeroot, dock root, pennyrile [pennyroyal] tea
    Sing a song, Kitty
    Won’t you come-e-oh

    She also sang “Froggy Went A-Courtin'” with basically the “traditional” words (for what that’s worth), except that the answer to the line “What will the wedding supper be? ” was “Dogwood soup and catnip tea”. The tunes to these two songs were different as well.

  37. Jennifer Sundholm Says:

    My dad would sing a version of this song while playing his guitar to my sister and I all the time. He left us to go home to be with Jesus this Christmas Eve. We are planning his funeral and want to have this song playing while his slide show plays. The version he would sing to us was very similar to The Brothers Four song “FROGG”. The last part is where it is different. If any one could point me in the right direction on where to find there version I’m looking for it would be greatly appreciated. Please see below for the last part that is a bit different than The Brothers Four version…
    Well that’s it Clyde better hit the road… Farewell
    That’s it Clyde better hit the road… So-long
    That’s it Clyde better hit the road, you Anita a frog your a horny toad.. good-by, so-long, farewell.

  38. Angela Says:

    My grandpa was from Texas and he used to sing it to me when I was little like this

    I went down to the spring
    To pull a frog out
    It was so cold that he could not sing
    A-sing song Polly won’t you kameo
    Kamo nero whomp!
    A-whompa stick-a pomanilly
    Knick knack come A Johnny with a bootstrap
    Won’t you kameo
    Kamo nero captain karo
    Camaneero karo
    A-limmanada zimmanada
    Laz bull riiiiiiiiiiiitum (you have to trill your tongue) laz bull riiiiiiitum

  39. Mim Says:

    My grandpa used to sing a rhyme/lyric when I was a kid back in the 60’s. It started with Old Rhyme Ram Sack……the word Humpernick or similar was in there somewhere, ends with Kitty Wants a Ki me oh.

    Any guesses.

  40. Marcus Says:

    In the early to mid 80s we learned a version of this but all I recall is

    Sing song kitty cantcha ky me oh
    Ma deary oh my dirry oh
    Ma key re oh ma wear
    Me hi me ho
    Me in stepped nip cat
    Hit em with a brick bat
    Sing song kitty cantcha ky me oh

    It’s been stuck in my head since. Forgive my spelling as I tried to do so phonetically. Reading other peoples comments has sparked aome memories of other parts. Frog in a well.. periwinkle.. love this!
    Take care everyone!

  41. Arne Says:

    As I remember it, this is how my dad sang it:

    There was a Frog lived by a well,
    Sing song kitty catch a kymio.
    [can’t remember the next line!]
    Sing song kitty catch a kymio.
    Keemo, Kymo der he war
    In come pollywinkle out go nipcat,
    Sing song kitty catch a kymio.

    Dad said he learned it from his mother [who was born in 1867], and that a ‘kymio’ was a crawdad.

  42. Pat S Says:

    I see here bits and pieces of at least four versions. Didn’t Nat King Cole sing “Keemo Kymo” with no references to frogs? Some distinctive Froggy song renditions include Burl Ives, Tex Ritter, the Clancy Brothers (“Rowley Poley Gammon and Spinach”), Pete Seeger (“Ding dang dong go the wedding bells”). a 1955 Tom and Jerry cartoon (“Crambone”) and the Brothers 4 (“You ain’t no frog, you’re a horny toad”). Not surprising that the nonsense words have morphed into so many half-remembered chants.

  43. Pat S Says:

    Here’s a very distinctive version — translated into Finnish!

    (I believe there is also a version in Yiddish)

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