Tom Tiddler's Ground

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Tom Tiddler's Ground, also known as Tom Tidler's Ground or Tommy Tiddler's Ground, is an ancient children's game in which one player, "Tom Tiddler," stands on a heap of stones, gravel, etc. Other players rush onto the heap, crying "Here I am on Tom Tiddler's ground," while Tom tries to capture or in other versions expel the invaders. By extension, the phrase has come to mean the ground or tenement of a sluggard, or of one who is easily taken advantage of. The essence of the game lives on in such more modern games as Steal the Bacon and variants of Tag.

In literature[edit]

"Tom Tiddler's Ground" is the name of an 1861 short story[1] by Charles Dickens, and the phrase "Tom Tidler's ground" appears in his novels Nicholas Nickleby, David Copperfield and Dombey and Son. "Tom Tiddler's Ground" is the title of a 1931 poem and a 1931 anthology of children's poetry edited by Walter de la Mare, and a 1934 novel by Edward Shanks. E. F. Benson mentions "Tom Tiddler's Ground" in his 1935 novel The Worshipful Lucia. "Tom Tiddler's Ground" is the name given to a piece of waste land in the 1962 children's novel No One Must Know by Barbara Sleigh.

Other uses[edit]

"Tom Tiddler's Ground" is a song on the 1970 album Flat Baroque and Berserk by Roy Harper.

Tom Tiddler's Ground is also used in modern English as a euphemism for having an uncertain status, for example, "I asked her why her performance review was late and I could tell she was on Tom Tiddler's Ground".

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Irving, Joseph (1879). ""Mad Lucas" the hermit". The Annals of Our Time from March 20, 1874, to the Occupation of Cyprus. London: Macmillan. p. 3.  The protagonist "Mr. Mopes" of the story by Dickens is based upon the hermit James Lucas.

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