Talk:Pop Goes the Weasel

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Heads Up![edit]

I'm putting this up the top in case anyone is still watching this page. This article is a mishmash of crap. If anybody who has complained or commented here have any actual information to add to it, now would be a good time. At the moment it's so speculative as to be worthless, and I want to pare it back. pablohablo. 21:17, 16 February 2009 (UTC)

I took this as fair warning to anyone with serious objections. I have cleaned up the article, taking into account the widespread concerns below. The only unsubstantiated section left are some of the American lyrics. It would be could if a reliable source can be found.--Sabrebd (talk) 22:21, 14 April 2009 (UTC)

I Found 9 G hits for the "good old turtley song" crap, all of them copied from Wikipedia. That seems to be completely fabricated. Of course, we could wind up in the position of Wikipedia being the source of something that goes viral and then self-cites. I'm putting this note here so someone can find a good reference for that verse. If not, I'm going to delete it.
I concur on how bad this page is generally. I added a reference to some verses, but I didn't quite code the cite right. It's there. I'll see if I can get that fixed, but feel free meantime.Mzmadmike (talk) 12:26, 1 September 2009 (UTC)
This has been up here for a while. I suggest we remove all of the lyrics that do not have reliable citations.--Sabrebd (talk) 15:38, 1 September 2009 (UTC)


Can I get some --any -- reference to rhyming slang existing in the 17th century? What? No? If not, can we junk the shockingly questionable second possible meaning? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:06, 7 January 2008 (UTC)

unsure of the proper protocol for adding a comment...[edit]

Some interesting add-ons to the slang interpretation: 1) a "monkey" was a £500 note 2) a "stick of glue" was slang for someone of Jewish decent 3) to "knock off" something was to steal it

I personally think the wedding ring version of "weasel" makes more sense than pawning a coat since it might result in more money to buy food (and a night at the pub). Then the entire song would be interpreted as a husband's humorous attempt to explain the missing ring and the resulting absence of the money.

The second verse then would be the suggestion that the money was left on the table and stolen. The cockney rhyming then would hide the anti-semitism.

It seems that when the song migrated out of London few understood what it meant so it became changed in subsequent attempts to get some meaning out of it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:41, 22 August 2012 (UTC)

I would add to this that I'm guessing the original slang version wasn't "All around the Mulberry Bush" but instead...

"All around the old Bull & Bush"... (another pub reference). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:48, 22 August 2012 (UTC)

If you are guessing please do not add it as it will fall under original research.--SabreBD (talk) 09:34, 22 August 2012 (UTC)

The Lyrics[edit]

Maybe they are completely nonsensical...just a thought...Colin4C 11:30, 20 May 2007 (UTC)

I was taught that the poem reffered to organized crime in London, the Eagle (pub) being a meeting place, anyone feel like doing some digging on that? Empty Hat

My father (who was an authentic cockney - born within the sound of Bow Bells and all that) always taught me that "Weasel" was cockney slang for a wedding ring...although he never came up with a convincing rhyming slang for it (not that I can recall at least). So "Pop goes the weasel" would mean "Pawning the wedding ring" - which would be a much more logical thing to pawn than a coat or something with functional value - and in those days might well have been the most valuable thing a poor family owned. The use of "pop" to mean "pawn" is still in use in some parts of the UK where a pawn shop is sometimes called a "popping shop". SteveBaker 01:47, 7 August 2007 (UTC)

Well not all cockney slang was rhyming slang, just as not all rhyming slang is cockney. I've never heard of 'weasel' for a wedding ring, but you may find a similar-sounding term in Irish, Yiddish, Romani, Shelta, Hindi/Urdu, Thieves cant, or one of the many, many other languages that have donated words to English usage. pablohablo. 21:13, 16 February 2009 (UTC)


User: inserted this in the intro after the statement that the tune originated in the 17th century: Gazpacho

[This may be innacurate. My understanding is that the tune is a version of a tune recorded in Gow's Repository, which was printed in 4 volumes 1799-1820, and that this tune is in turn similar to certain jigs traceable back to the 17th Century- source: As I understand, there is no printed citation for the nursery rhyme itself previous to the mid 19th century. While it may well have existed in oral form for many years before this, there is, as I understand, currently no evidence of this. Source: Note added by Keith Macpherson]

Possible Theory[edit]

I think the weasel got tired of the monkey chasing him, so he turned around and shot him. thats the "pop goes the weasel" —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:21, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

¶ An October 1997 episode of NYPD BLUE had a subplot concerned with the meaning of this lyric and the theory that "pop" meant "shoot". It was not resolved. My own opinion is that the lyric probably predates the availability of handguns. I am inclined to think either it means that the weasel lost its temper (as in "popped its cork") or this is cockney slang for pawning one's coat. Sussmanbern (talk) 18:17, 13 July 2012 (UTC)

Poor quality research[edit]

This article doesn't do Wikipedia proud. The presentation of various lyrics is great. But the interpretations are only partly supported by the references given at the end of the article. Only the Quinion link goes any way to explaining the song, and he expresses much more reserve than the article. Surely someone has published something on the origins of this song? The interpretations need more than weblinks and hearsay to support them. The cockney interpretation, without a lot more evidence, seems rather farfetched if one applies Ockham's Razor.--Iacobus (talk) 04:14, 13 February 2008 (UTC)


"The original theme seems to have been a darkly humorous vignette of the cycle of poverty among workers in the East End of London" - no, the City Road isn't in the East End, rather it runs north from the City of London. Unless someone provides a definite connection to the East End soon, I shall edit that out. P.M.Lawrence203.194.49.100 (talk) 12:16, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

Displayed tune is incorrect[edit]

As I know the tune (since I was a child) and indeed even as it was whistled by Riker in the episode of ST-TNG quoted in the article, the third note from the end as shown in the sheet music should be an F not a D. That is to say the last three notes descend in order. Searching various midi files on the internet which unfortunately I may not link to as they do not seem to be in the public domain, this seems to be borne out by how everyone else who knows the tune expects it to sound too. In other words, the sheet music is wrong. A public domain midi or ogg version of the song would be useful is someone has the resources to create and/or host. Aethandor (talk) 09:42, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

In fact as I look more closely at the tune, the fourth note (D) should be an F, the the twelth note (D) should be an F, the fourth note on the second line (D) should be an F, plus the third note fro the end as previously mentioned. The tune portrayed by the music notation shown is therefore very incorrect. I move that the sheet music should therefore be removed, and replaced as soon as possible with an example that is correct in one of many forms (sheet music, ogg, midi, wav) Aethandor (talk) 09:55, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

I don't read music, so I can't vouch for the exact pitch of the notes, but I can sing along with it if I know the tune, and it looks like the staff is missing a note. There should be a note, a step or two below middle C, between the eighth and ninth notes shown (by count, I mean, not "eighth note"). And in fact there's a little gap there where that note should be. Basically, it's missing a "the": "All a-round the co-obb-ler's bench [the] mon-key chased the wea-sel." Unless they are intending the little dot on note # 8 to mean that "bench" and "the" are sung together, but I don't think that's correct. "The" should drop a note or two down, to an "A" or whatever. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 11:21, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

Yes I know what you mean. I have created a new image file with a slightly different version of the tune, incorporating the first change I suggested here but not the later ones and have used it to replace the original image. I suspect that the tune varies slightly depending upon the person singing it and which verse is being sung. I have created a couple of midi files sounding the melody in the original listed form plus the two versions I have suggested, and if I can find a location to store them online and link to them I'm place them in the public domain and link to them here so it can be possible to hear the tune being played.Aethandor (talk) 14:08, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

You're still missing that A or whatever, between notes 8 and 9. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 17:26, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

I know what you mean now, it's actually a 'C' but I left it out because it's an extra note which is sung to make the syllables of the lyrics fit the tune for that verse, but it doesn't apply for every verse. If you have a listen to the midi file which I've linked to, does it sound correct to you ? The midi file plays the tune as shown in the image file of the sheet music.
By way of comparison, the tune as it would sound if one were to play the music as written in the previous image would sound as Aethandor (talk) 20:16, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

Image:Pop Goes the Weasel melody.PNG is sourced but has no fair-use rationale for Pop Goes the Weasel. Hyacinth (talk) 23:37, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

I remember a different melody for the verse which starts "Up and down the City Road." It's a higher melody starting on the C above middle C, and is missing from both the displayed tune and the sound clip. Difrankel (talk) 18:16, 7 December 2009 (UTC)

The Marx Brothers: Duck Soup[edit]

There is one important reference missing. In the 1933 motion picture "Duck Soup" by the Marx Brothers the dictator of Freedonia, Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho), in a song lets us know what will happen to anyone not obeying his rules: ..we line them up against the wall, and Pop Goes The Weasel - holding a stick like a rifle. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:41, 12 July 2008 (UTC)

I added it. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 00:41, 13 July 2008 (UTC)
How in the world did we miss that one, eh? :) Cinemaniac (talkcontribscritique) 02:34, 13 July 2008 (UTC)
Hiding in plain sight, I guess. :) Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? 04:17, 13 July 2008 (UTC)

Knock It Off vs Knock It Back[edit]

I'm not a Cockney but I do have some knowledge of London slang, and in my experience "Knock it off" means "Stop doing that". To drink something rapidly (usually in one go) is to "Knock it back". Compare Knock It Off vs Knock It Back.

How sure are you that "Knock It Off" in this context means to swig the drink? AncientBrit (talk) 02:30, 25 October 2008 (UTC)


Is it notable that the game The Neverhood uses the song's tune quite extensively in a sequence with a monster known as the Weasel in game? Lemon Demon (talk) 10:51, 24 October 2009 (UTC)

Unnecessary amount of American versions?[edit]

As this is, like most nursery rhymes, of British origin, do we need such a vast amount of American alternatives? Not only is it tiresome to look at it makes the article look untidy. How about we keep a select few of the more popular American versions, and tidy up (i.e. get rid of) the rest? Orphan Wiki 19:52, 2 January 2010 (UTC)

I agree. They make the whole thing very hard to read. They should be deleted or moved to wikisource.--SabreBD (talk) 20:08, 2 January 2010 (UTC)
Well, I've got rid of the majority and kept the more well known ones. Orphan Wiki 19:13, 5 January 2010 (UTC)


I neither remember that detail, nor remember encountering in the novel anything so non-sequitur-ish as this mention.
I removed ". . . with the knowledge that he is tone deaf" w/o prejudice to an appropriate revision. It may be that it can't be included w/o too much detail: this is not the place to tell amusing stories abt the song, but to link to refs to it. A Rosewater ref is appropriate, but the phrase above adds nothing as it stands: it is a non-sequitur, since the difference in intention between humming it in someone's presence and doing so the that knowledge is speculative, since tone-deafness affects singing, but affects listening only when a recognition or imitation task is involved.
That said, only so much detail is justified; it's hard to know how sense can be made out of the inclusion of the tone-deafness mention without telling far to much of the story. If you can do so, your colleagues stand ready to be astounded by you.
--Jerzyt 03:41, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

LOOOL — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:01, 27 June 2012 (UTC)

"Pop! goes the weasel" goes Jazz[edit]

The great pianist Sonny Clark quotes this tune in his piece "Cool Struttin'". He changes the last note of the phrase and it sounds very funny! You can find it on his album that is also named "Cool Struttin'" from 1958. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:32, 18 May 2010 (UTC)

That entire album is a masterpiece: Cool Struttin'. Quotes a-plenty, in fact: [1] Martinevans123 (talk) 22:41, 23 November 2014 (UTC) ... but I wouldn't say that particular quote was that notable!

Mulberry bush[edit]

Presumably the versions in which the cobbler's bench is replaced by the mulberry bush are due to cross-contamination with Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush? —Hieronymus Illinensis (talk) 22:44, 5 August 2010 (UTC)

I think that is probably correct. I will have a look for a reliable source so that it can go into the article.--SabreBD (talk) 23:18, 5 August 2010 (UTC)
This has probably been covered by Iona and Peter Opie, and I'll try to dig out my copy of "Lore and Language of Schoolchildren" tomorrow. Rodhullandemu 23:22, 5 August 2010 (UTC)

The (UK) 2nd verse I knew as a child was

Round and round the Mulberry Bush,
In and out the Eagle,
That's the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel.

And I was told it related to 2 pubs near Fleet Street and the profligacy of the local journalists. A nice story for which I know no referents, sadly, although it might fit better with the 'City Road' verse.

Sorry, more amusement value than actual use. ;) -- (talk) 09:34, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

Irish version[edit]

I just added the version I learned as a child in Ireland:

I went into a tailor's shop;
I picked up a needle;
the tailor came out
and gave me a clout.
Pop! goes the weasel.

Sorry I have no citation to support it, so someone may delete it, but at least it is interesting because the scene is set in the tailor's shop, complete with needle and weasel. Another thing: I was taught a version where the first four notes were the same. I notice that in the here, the first two notes are the same, and the following two notes are above them. Interesting. -- (talk) 19:53, 17 September 2010 (UTC)

Nancy Dawson[edit]

The tune to Nancy Dawson, from the mid 1700's, is often quoted as being the tune leading to Pop Goes the Weasel. Of course no music is original so who knows where that was ripped off from.


I have collected a lot of information about and studied these lyrics for well over 5 years now. The following is 3/4 pure results of my research, and 1/4 logical deduction and fully open to input and comment, Please:

One relatively recent form of the lyrics (believed to be from the 1850's) go as follows:

Half a pound of tuppenny rice, Half a pound of treacle. Mix it up and make it nice, Pop! goes the weasel.

A penny for a spool of thread, A penny for a needle­ That's the way the money goes, Pop! goes the weasel.

Up and down the City Road, In and out the Eagle, That's the way the money goes, Pop! goes the weasel.

One common explanation of the meaning invokes the use of cockney slang claiming that "pop goes the weasel" refers to "pawning one's coat ("weasel" -> "weasel and stoat" -> nowadays means "coat"))"

However, I believe the meaning is somewhat different, yet still cockney slang. "Pop", in this case probably simply means "pop" (as in "oops, it's all gone... shot, blown". Rather than "COAT", however, I believe that one meaning for the cockney slang for "weasel" in older days (sorry no specific reference available as yet - still searching) referred to a denomination of money (as a great many cockney slang, especially those referring to animals, did then and still do to this day) and actually refers to the, now obsolete, currency the "GROAT". By the way "monkey" used in other verses of the song is coincidentally current cockney slang for a 500 pound note ( ... coincidence? The original English "groat" was a silver coin worth roughly 4 pence originally (and various other values later as it was depreciated). I am, among other things an avid collector of old coinage.

If you add up the values mentioned in the first two versus of this commonly published version of the song you come out with a total of 4 pennies which amazingly enough, equals 1 groat for the first two verses. In the era of tupenny rice (meaning rice selling for 2 pennies per pound, or 1 penny per 1/2 pound) 1/2 lb of treacle (a sugary syrup) also generally sold for a penny, as I researched. Note (importantly): the lyrics do NOT say, "that's the way the money goes" after the FIRST verse, only after the second. Therefore these two versus were meant to go together (versus the third verse, which DOES say "that's the way the money goes" and explained further below)

The groat was originally created in the 1300's as a silver coin worth 4 pennies. It was abandoned in the mid-1600's. However... it was newly reissued in 1835 and used as late as 1890 (according to Brewer's 1870 Dictionary of Phrase and Fable - late 1800s revised edition - "the modern groat was introduced in 1835, and withdrawn in 1887" -

Cockney slang is generally believed to have originated in the 1840's shortly before the reported origin of the above referenced version of the song. The groat at that time had just recently been revived in 1835, thus logically being still quite popular in the current vernacular. It all logically fits! In this context, the coat-pawning, based on today's contemporary slang is arguably logically more of a reach than this explanation.

The additional "Eagle" verse (if truly used at the same time) seems to fit quite nicely as referring to spending ones money as well, in a different way. If you look at the words again closely, with respect to the the above information it all fits perfectly as a commentary that you can either spend your money responsibly "eating modestly and maintaining ones clothing appearance" or "blowing ones earnings solely at the Eagle" (and starving as a shoddy bum). Either way it's all gone.

Based purely on my own personal reading of the various verse origins data, I would strongly suggest that the Eagle verse was an independent satirical, parody stage performance version with modified lyrics of the then popular tune, much like a modern day "Weird Al" spoof. These were quite common then as well.

I can provide more citations concerning prices, dates, etc. Or they may be left as an exercise for the page manager and reader.


 Mike M. 

MikePCAP (talk) 10:49, 5 February 2012 (UTC)mikepcap

An independent reference[edit]

OK - it's original research, but what about truth! I refer you to

Which is an 1854 Broadside ballad entitled 'Down By The Dark Arches' [under the railway]. Observe verse 5 in which the narrator is assaulted by a ruffian 'with black eye and stick' who precedes the attack by announcing 'Pop goes the Weasel'. This surely indicates the phrase was understood at that time to presage violence (with a stick?) Perhaps the Weasel was the stick? and the 'Pop' was what it did to your head?

Or more generally perhaps 'an explosion of activity'? (weasels being very active creatures). (talk) 21:51, 31 October 2012 (UTC)

Pop Goes the Weasel[edit]

Even cursory research on Amazon books reveals "The secret meaning of nursery rhymes" by Albert Jack, and an alternative explanation of the song "Pop Goes the Weasel" from the songs of immigrant textile workers. The sound "pop" was evidently made by a machine that reliably measured out equal lengths of yarn, making a "pop" noise when the right length of yarn had been spun out. Grueling work needing its own tune cerca 1620. One can imagine them humming it as they worked, just over 200 years before the publish date shown in this article.

A dead heat with Ravel's "Bolero" as possibly the world's most romantic and elegant tango composition? I had no idea, but now its origin (and even the tune played by the toy Jack-In-the-Box I had as a child, makes perfect sense. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Danshawen (talkcontribs) 11:42, 25 April 2013 (UTC)

The Weasel[edit]


My family are Londoners back to the 1840s and seem quite attentive to family traditions (i.e., they are actively interested in things like the meaning of this song). No guarantee of anything, obviously, but anyway I asked my folks what "the weasel" was. They said it is what the rent money was called in their family, stretching back as far as anyone could remember. So they presumed that was what the song was talking about. Seems to fit with the theme of money being spent as quick as you have it - some cheap rice, some treacle, waste some money down the pub, pop goes the weasel.


Mike Knights — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:56, 14 July 2013 (UTC)

Another entry for Cultural Influence?[edit]

I was looking at the entry, and I remembered something. There's an early scene in The Godfather II (at the big party on the occasion of his infant son's first-communion party) where Michael Corleone has a business meeting with Frankie Petangeli. In another, more comic scene at the party, Petangeli is trying to get the hired band to play some Italian folk music in 6:8 time, suggesting to them the rhythm the tunes should be played in. The band members don't know any Italian melodies and wind up simply slipping into the familiar 6:8 tune "Pop Goes the Weasel" (much to the Petangeli's frustration).Joel Russ (talk) 04:20, 22 August 2013 (UTC)