One, Two, Buckle My Shoe

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This article is about the nursery rhyme. For the Agatha Christie novel, see One, Two, Buckle My Shoe (novel).
"One, Two, Buckle My Shoe"
Roud #11284
Written England
Published 1805
Form Nursery rhyme
Writer Traditional
Language English

"One, Two, Buckle My Shoe" is a popular English language nursery rhyme and counting-out rhyme. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 11284.


A common version[1][edit]

One, two,
Buckle my shoe;
Three, four,
Open the door;
Five, six,
Pick up sticks;
Seven, eight,
Lay them straight:
Nine, ten,
A big, fat hen;
Eleven, twelve,
Dig and delve;
Thirteen, fourteen,
Maids a-courting;
Fifteen, sixteen,
Maids in the kitchen;
Seventeen, eighteen,
Maids a-waiting
Nineteen, twenty,
My plate's empty.

Other versions[edit]

Some sources give differing lyrics.[2]

Origins and meaning[edit]

The rhyme is one of many counting-out rhymes. It was first recorded in Songs for the Nursery, published in London in 1805. This version differed beyond the number twelve, with the lyrics:

Thirteen, fourteen, draw the curtain,
Fifteen sixteen, the maid's in the kitchen,
Seventeen, eighteen, she's in waiting,
Nineteen, twenty, my stomach's empty.[1]

A version published five years later in Gammer Gurton's Garland (1810) had the following different lines:

Three, four, Lay down lower ...
Eleven twelve, Who will delve...
Fifteen, sixteen, Maidsa-kissing...
Nineteen, twenty, My Belly's empty.[1]

There is some speculation[3] that the rhyme refers to aspects of lacemaking:

  • buckle my shoe, shut the door: the lacemaker preparing for work
  • pick up sticks, lay them straight: wooden pins used on a lacemaking ‘machine’ are laid across the fabric
  • a big fat hen: a pillow that supports the lacework

According to Henry Bolton, collector of counting rhymes in the 1880s, the rhyme was used in Wrentham, Massachusetts as early as 1780.[1]

References in popular culture[edit]

A 1940 Agatha Christie novel used the rhyme in its title and story structure. A form of this nursery rhyme appears in several of the A Nightmare on Elm Street (from 1984) movies being chanted by children. It is also sung in the 1942 Looney Tunes propaganda cartoon "The Ducktators" to mock Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito.

It is used as a part of the Korn song Shoots and Ladders, which consists entirely of nursery rhymes.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers used part of the lyrics in their song, "One Big Mob", on their 1995 album, One Hot Minute.

In an episode of The Simpsons the character Roofi sings a parody of the song called One, Two, Tie Your Shoe


  1. ^ a b c d I. Opie and P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford University Press, 1951, 2nd edn., 1997), pp. 333-4.
  2. ^ Elizabeth M. Knowles (1999). The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. Oxford University Press. p. 550. ISBN 978-0-19-860173-9. 
  3. ^ [1]