There are cats and also fiddles, cows jumping moons, dogs giggling, and dishes that run, literally, acquisition spoons in addition to them – those ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’ all about?

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

If us take it literally, the timeless nursery rhyme’s text tell of a cat and a fiddle (it doesn’t say if the cat ever played claimed violin), a cow the jumped over the moon, a laughing dog, and also a plate that ran away through a spoon.

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But what is the deeper an interpretation of the rhyme? exactly how did the cow get to together lofty heights, and also why did the dish run away v the spoon? stop delve into this mysterious and also wonderfully lively children’s song…

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What are the full lyrics come ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’?

Hey, diddle, diddle,The cat and also the fiddle,The cow jumped end the moon;The tiny dog laughed,To check out such sport,And the dish ran away v the spoon.

‘Hey Diddle Diddle’ is a single, six-line rhyme. The third line, fairly wonderfully, is whereby the expression to it is in ‘over the moon’, an interpretation elated, comes from.

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

What is the definition of ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’?

In ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’, not all may be together it appears and, accordingly, scholars on the entirety have reached the conclusion the it’s not expected to average much at all; the it’s simply incoherent, feeling nonsense.

‘Diddle’ is defined, in Oxford Dictionary, together either the act of gaining “money or some benefit from someone by cheating them”, or “wasting time without having a purpose.”

The Cat and also Fiddle is a common name for inns in England, and the cow jumping end the moon could be a an allegory for… well, it’s not as well clear. Perhaps the dog is laughing and also light-headed ~ too plenty of ales? and also how a dish can even run, we’re no sure. For this reason the above scholarly conclusion the it’s not really expected to make sense seems sensible to us.

Other theories

One credible theory, though, might be linked to those Cat and Fiddle pubs. One old game involving a trap-ball called a ‘cat’ used to be play at pubs, v accompanying music native the fiddle – which explains why it ended up being a pub name at all. Famed nursery rhymes have the right to sometimes it is in traced ago to timeless dances or music games, so it’s a plausible theory that that’s what ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’ is every about. And also as well as the cat and fiddle, the rhyme mentions “sport”. Maybe the dish and also spoon to run away is us, distracted through the game, absent our possibility to eat ours grub prior to the key is brought away again.

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

Another concept believes the happiness has every little thing to carry out with the stars in the night skies – the the numbers correspond through constellations, with the moon-jumping cow being Taurus the bull and the laughing dog gift Canis minor.


There space even ancient Egyption themes that creep right into the theory of ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’.

And there’s one more area of speculation worth mentioning: the history-based theories the the rhyme depicts one of two people Lady Katherine Grey, a nephew of Henry VIII’s sister Mary, who had dual relationships through the Earl of Hertford and the Earl that Leicester, or Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife. The “diddle” is fitting because that the speculation and also cheating that has actually been videotaped as apparent in Tudor politics.

In 1923, Lord that the Rings author J. R. R. Tolkien satirised ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’ and also all the theories bordering its meaning, in his initial song ‘The guy in the Moon continued to be Up as well Late’ – an initial published in Yorkshire Poetry magazine and also then again in Lord the the Rings.

What room the origins of the nursery rhyme?

‘Hey Diddle Diddle’ is believed to originate native the 1700s, with the lyrics and also melody we recognize today first published through the composer and nursery happiness collector James wilhelm Elliott, in his 1870 collection National Nursery Rhymes and also Nursery Songs.

Many historians believe the rhyme can be also older, dating ago to the 16th century or further.

When he composed story version of the mom Goose nursery rhymes in 1897, Wizard that Oz writer L. Open minded Baum retold ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’ from a small boy’s perspective. The boy observed the cat having actually a mishap and panicking after obtaining stuck to a fiddle, the cow jumping end the reflection of the moon in water, the dog merely running around and also barking v excitement, and also the dish and also spoon gift those native his own supper, sliding into a brook.

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What a wonderfully concise means of bringing the mysterious ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’ out of the worlds of nonsense rhyme, and into other really quite everyday and plausible.