Tright here are cats and also fiddles, cows jumping moons, dogs giggling, and also dishes that run, literally, taking spoons together with them – what’s ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’ all about?

‘Hey Diddle Diddle’ is an 18th-century English ‘Mvarious other Goose’ nursery Rhyme.

If we take it literally, the traditional nursery rhyme’s lyrics tell of a cat and also a fiddle (it doesn’t say if that cat ever played shelp violin), a cow that jumped over the moon, a laughing dog, and also a plate that ran ameans with a spoon.

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But what is the deeper interpretation of the rhyme? How did that cow obtain to such lofty heights, and also why did the dish run ameans with the spoon? Let’s delve right into this mysterious and wonderfully lively children’s song…

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What are the complete lyrics to ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’?

Hey, diddle, diddle,The cat and the fiddle,The cow jumped over the moon;The bit dog laughed,To watch such sport,And the dish ran away with the spoon.

‘Hey Diddle Diddle’ is a solitary, six-line rhyme. The 3rd line, quite wondertotally, is wbelow the expression to be ‘over the moon’, definition elated, originates from.

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Hey Diddle, Diddle is a single, six-line rhyme. Picture: Alamy

What is the meaning of ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’?

In ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’, not all might be as it appears and also, as necessary, scholars on the entirety have got to the conclusion that it’s not expected to mean a lot at all; that it’s simply incoherent, humorous nonfeeling.

‘Diddle’ is characterized, in Oxford Thesaurus, as either the act of acquiring “money or some advantage from somebody by cheating them”, or “wasting time without having actually a purpose.”

The Cat and also Fiddle is a common name for inns in England, and also the cow jumping over the moon can be a metaphor for… well, it’s not too clear. Maybe the dog is laughing and light-headed after also many type of ales? And exactly how a dish can even run, we’re not certain. So the over scholarly conclusion that it’s not really expected to make sense appears judicious to us.

Other theories

One credible theory, though, can be linked to those Cat and also Fiddle pubs. An old game entailing a trap-ball referred to as a ‘cat’ supplied to be played at pubs, via accompanying music from the fiddle – which explains why it became a pub name at all. Famous nursery rhymes deserve to periodically be traced back to conventional dances or musical games, so it’s a plausible concept that that’s what ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’ is all around. And and the cat and fiddle, the rhyme mentions “sport”. Perhaps the dish and also spoon running away is us, distracted by the game, missing our possibility to eat our grub prior to the plate is carried amethod aget.

James Halliwell-Phillipps, a 19th-century Shakespeare scholar and collector of English nursery rhymes, likewise had a theory that it was a corruption of ancient Greek sayings, yet this has been all yet discredited.

Anvarious other theory believes the rhyme has actually every little thing to perform with the stars in the night skies – that the numbers correspond with constellations, via the moon-jumping cow being Taurus the bull and the laughing dog being Canis minor.


Tright here are even Old Egyption themes that creep into the theories of ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’.

And there’s an additional location of speculation worth mentioning: the history-based theories that the rhyme depicts either Lady Katherine Grey, a granddaughter of Henry VIII’s sister Mary, who had dual relationships via the Earl of Hertford and the Earl of Leicester, or Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife. The “diddle” is fitting for the speculation and also cheating that has been tape-recorded as apparent in Tudor national politics.

In 1923, Lord of the Rings writer J. R. R. Tolkien satirised ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’ and also all the theories surrounding its meaning, in his original song ‘The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late’ – first published in Yorkshire Poetry magazine and then aacquire in Lord of the Rings.

What are the origins of the nursery rhyme?

‘Hey Diddle Diddle’ is thought to originate from the 1700s, via the lyrics and also melody we recognize this day initially publiburned by the composer and nursery rhyme collector James William Elliott, in his 1870 repertoire National Nursery Rhymes and also Nursery Songs.

Many historians think the rhyme can be also older, dating earlier to the 1sixth century or better.

When he wrote story versions of the Mvarious other Goose nursery rhymes in 1897, Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum retold ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’ from a tiny boy’s perspective. The boy saw the cat having actually a mishap and panicking after getting stuck to a fiddle, the cow jumping over the reflection of the moon in water, the dog sindicate running approximately and barking through excitement, and also the dish and also spoon being those from his very own stop, sliding right into a brook.

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What a wondercompletely concise way of bringing the mysterious ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’ out of the realms of nonsense rhyme, and right into somepoint really fairly daily and plausible.