Julie and Beth wrote looking for the origins of two Scandinavian rhymes that are played with little kids while touching their toes. We’re wondering if anyone’s ever heard of these rhymes and perhaps knows what country they’re from and/or anything else about their origins. Here’s what Julie wrote:
I have been searching for the origin of a nursery rhyme that my friend said to her kids. The child has his/her shoes off and starting with the little toe, she names the toes:
Little Pea (little toe)
Peter Lou (next toe)
Oosey Nossey (next toe)
Toosey tossey (next toe)
And a Great Big Oppososso (big toe)
I am not sure of the spelling. However, the University of Wisconsin Children’s Library assures me that this toe rhyme has Scandinavian roots. They said: Scandinavia is known for naming toe rhymes.
Please help me, I have been searching the origin of this toe playing game for years with my friend’s blessing. My friend is Scandinavian and she doesn’t remember where she heard this toe playing game. I assume that she heard it as a child.
Beth Bookschlepper wrote in looking for the origin of a similar rhyme:
I know this as…
And Big Tom Bumble.
I am also interested in its origins.
If anyone can help, or would like to share other similar rhymes, please comment below.
UPDATE: Check out Little One (aka Little Man) for an American Finger Naming Rhyme with origins in Medieval times.
This article was posted on Wednesday, December 13th, 2006 at 7:20 pm and is filed under Countries & Cultures, Danish, Danish Nursery Rhymes, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Icelandic, Languages, Norway, Norwegian, Norwegian Nursery Rhymes, Nursery Rhymes, Questions, Rhymes by Theme, Sweden, Swedish, Swedish Nursery Rhymes, Toe Naming Rhymes. 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.
339 Responses to “The Origins of Some Scandinavian Finger and Toe Naming Rhymes”
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January 3rd, 2021 at 12:36 am
Big Tom Bumble, Penny Rue, Roy Whistle Marry Hustle AND little Ricky P. I had to laugh when I found this page! The came from My father’s side of the family. He would have been 101 now. It was from when he was a child.
January 29th, 2021 at 3:45 pm
My mother, 1916-2011, from Missouri was taught this by her mother- German and Irish descent- and she taught to me since the 40’s and we have passed it on- (probably Westernized):
and Old Tom Bummer
Such fun to read all the different versions. Thank you to everyone who has shared.
Brings back many memories from Grandmother to Grandsons.
February 16th, 2021 at 10:22 pm
Here is a very interesting article on the same subject, from “Mimir’s Well”, a column written by folks at the “Institute for Northern Studies” at The University of the Highlands and Islands (in Scotland):
February 19th, 2021 at 7:27 pm
Since I haven’t seen our EXACT version, I will post another similar one…probably an early Maine connection in here but no Norwegian that I know of:
Penny Rude, and
GREAT BIG TOM BUMBLE BEE
(I am probably the one who changed the order and made Penny penultimate, but we like it that way)
March 7th, 2021 at 4:57 am
My wife is from upstate NY and brought this one to the west coast and we’ve passed it on to our family with much love
Starting with the little toe
(Wiggling the big toe)
Hibble Gibble Gobble
March 28th, 2021 at 7:53 pm
Pede a lude
May 23rd, 2021 at 5:49 am
Wow! This takes me back many years to a train ride from Scandinavia to Paris. We met two Norwegian young-women on the train. In our compartment, we taught them our, “This Little Piggy Went to Market” song and, in turn, they taught us their Norwegian version of the finger-counting song and I wrote it down. It’s still in my travel journal and it is almost exactly as Kristina (above) remembers it. BTW, the Norwegian girl who taught it to me was named, Kristine!
June 9th, 2021 at 1:16 pm
I was very young when I learned this but my great-great-grandfather was from Sweden and my grandfather (so, third-generation immigrant) taught it to us as:
July 31st, 2021 at 2:12 am
I remember back in the 50’s my mother would sing to us as she touched our toes “pinney Lou, looney whistle, whistle wasle, wasle tossel.”
Have no idea where it came but probably her mom, my grandmother from Haverhill Mass.
I did it to my babies and grand babies. Fun for all
I grew up in Waltham Massachusetts
August 13th, 2021 at 8:57 pm
Here’s the version I was taught by my grandfather. He was a Smith, but he could have been passed down from any number of ancestors from different nationalities (spelling phonetically):
Big Tum Bumble
September 9th, 2021 at 3:58 am
I’m really surprised by how many variations of this there are! I thought it was a family thing for the longest time. It comes from my Mom’s side which is mostly Italian and we learned it this way:
And the great big Bumble bee coming round the barn (as you circle the big toe with your finger) gonna sting baby right under the arm (then you tickle their armpits.)
November 28th, 2021 at 6:22 pm
My ex used to play this toe rhyme,
And gobble, gobble, gobble.
December 22nd, 2021 at 6:11 am
All the variations are so fun! Here is how I remember my Grandma and Dad saying it:
BIG AH DAH!
My husband could never remember it, and would make up even sillier things for toes 3 and 4 like Puzzle Weasel and Weasel Puzzle.
February 22nd, 2022 at 4:25 am
My father taught me a similar one as Dee says:
And little Vicky-vicky.
Knowing that this has Scandinavian roots, I always thought it strange that I would learn it from my father’s side, which was English, and not from my mother, who was German, Norwegian, and English. I am reading about the Vikings’ influence on the early English language in 800 A.D, and wonder if the toe rhymes have possibly come from that early and been corrupted a bit as absorbed into English.
March 6th, 2022 at 11:07 pm
I have been searching for years for the origins of the toe rhyme that our family has passed down for generations and this is the closest I’ve ever seen!! Ours goes;
And the great Big Bang bang on the woppa tostle
Spelling is questionable haha
March 14th, 2022 at 5:50 pm
My Mother was famous for this tug on the toes of little ones, sayin: “Little Pete, Petter Rue. Rue Whistle Molly Hossel. and Great Big Gobble, Gobble, Gobble.” We are from Northern New York and would love to know the origin of this “ditty”.
March 23rd, 2022 at 7:50 pm
Growing up my father had:
Starting with the thumb, we have never found anyone else who used this rhyme…
Lick Pot Sweet
Long Man Ling
Short Man King
Little Ducky Darling
April 2nd, 2022 at 1:23 pm
My grandfather (born in 1900) and of Irish decent would name my toes as a little girl: Achey Pead, Penny Rude, Rudy Whistle, Mary Ostle and Old Tom Bumble.
April 4th, 2022 at 8:04 pm
Okay, here’s what I got from my mom and grandma. She always started with the little toe.
and Big Tom Bumbo
April 28th, 2022 at 11:48 pm
My grandmother from switzerland taught my mother
Lou lou whistle
I wish i knew the origin also. I was just doing it with my granddaughter and wondered if it was a real thing;)
May 6th, 2022 at 4:03 am
What a delightful find! I was just doing this little toe game with our baby and my 7-year-old said, “WHAT are you talking about?” So we Googled a phrase and low and behold, here is this post!
My grandmother (German descent, born 1920) always said, starting with the pinky toe:
and OLD TOE BALL
May 15th, 2022 at 9:37 pm
All these years I said this to my kids, and now my son to his first born, 8 months.
And ….drum roll please:
Ol’ Big Bumbler
Father side English and German
May 24th, 2022 at 3:06 pm
Our Danish friends said (starting with Big Toe):
Long-a-mon (longest one)
Itty-Pita-spool-a-mon (Little Peter. Music Man)
Strangely, Long-a-mon works better for the hand than the foot, since the middle finger is longest, but seldom the middle toe.
May 31st, 2022 at 2:47 am
Irish farm-family heritage,
From my mother who grew up in a family of 12 in the baby boomers era:
and Big Tum Bumbo!
June 5th, 2022 at 10:27 pm
I am from Denmark i am 73 years old so let’s see how much i remember from the old country.
I am not using a Danish keyboard so most of the words will be misspelled. The hand rhyme goes like this: start with the thumb tuma tot, piemont, longamont goulamot og lila bity spillamont. english translation: this is your thumb, this is your pointing finger, this is your ring finger, and this little finger in the spill everything finger.
The toe rhyme goes like this: it’s talking about piggies start with the big toe. Den lille svine tog till buen, den lille svine blive jem,den lille svine hev roost boof den lelle svine hada ingen og sa den lilla svine geek ve, ve, ve, hele vejen jema. English this little piggy went to market, and so this little piggy he stayed home, this little piggy had none and so this little piggy went wee, wee, wee all the way home. After the little toe you tickle up the leg all the way to their chine.
June 23rd, 2022 at 3:15 pm
My Swedish Grandma taught us
On the other hand/foot was
And Little Sven
July 12th, 2022 at 11:11 am
This is how I learned:
Big Tom Bumble!
July 25th, 2022 at 12:42 am
Old Tom bunbo
August 15th, 2022 at 4:22 pm
Big Tom Bumble
Welsh/Scottish/German family origin… ?
August 21st, 2022 at 11:20 pm
OLD Tom Bumble!
From my grandmother, Irish/Scottish
August 23rd, 2022 at 7:13 pm
I was thinking about this and my Grandma, who was from Upstate NY used to say it:
Hobble Gobble Gobble
I didn’t know there were so many versions. 😆
September 21st, 2022 at 1:43 am
Memory of my late Norwegian mother saying this to me and my kids (not sure of the spelling):
November 26th, 2022 at 8:38 pm
My mum passed at 93 this past summer, a finger and toe rhyme she grew up with goes:
Rode a Whistle
(Doesn’t add up. Can anyone complete it?)
November 29th, 2022 at 6:11 am
I grew up in Northeastern Montana where there are many descendents of Scandinavian immigrants. My mom’s best friend was Norwegian and she used to say this toe counting rhyme to us starting with the little toe:
Den store gubben hest (den STOH-ra goo-BAYN est)
You need to hold onto and shake the big toe when you say the last line while dramatically elongating the “O” in store. Its fun!
Many of the versions I see here certainly seem related. I think it means “one count, two count, (no idea), the big wife, and the big old horse.”
November 29th, 2022 at 12:49 pm
Names of the toes (from the left little toe)
Big Tum Bumble
And Little One Wink Stand
December 3rd, 2022 at 10:41 pm
Great Big Whoppie Dopple
This is how my mother recited it to me and I to my children and grandchildren.
Love seeing all the variations!
January 27th, 2023 at 10:54 pm
I read with interest all the different names of our toes from all over the world.
Years ago, I also learned the names of the toes from a Vermont logger, and have held onto that colorful information for 35 years.
Recently I published my version of the names of the toes to create my first illustrated story, entitled Anna Maria’s Toes.
I am texting to inquire if there might be a local library that you’re affiliated with that, that might like to have a copy. I believe it’s the first children’s story written on that topic. I could send along a copy, or one can be purchased through Amazon for Barnes & Noble
Thanks for providing your blog. So sweet to hear all the different names of the toes from so many readers.
Sincerely, Joan Holliday
January 28th, 2023 at 8:50 pm
My favorite babysitter/cousin would do a similar run down on my toes whenever I was inconsolably upset as a little girl. It always made me laugh despite myself. She would say:
Penny Roo (which is now my dog’s name!)
And Old Tom Bumbo
She learned from her mom who I adored.
March 21st, 2023 at 2:50 am
My dads parents both came from Norway and he use to count our fingers and toes like this:
Little bitty inceman