Nursery Rhymes

Pop goes the Weasel

The Nursery Rhyme, 'Pop goes the weasel' sounds quite incomprehensible in this day an age! The origins of the rhyme are believed to date back to the 1700's. Our grateful thanks go to Judith Pfeiffer, an Archivist at the Warren County Heritage Society, has provided an alternative meaning to the words of the rhyme.

Pop goes the Weasel
"I was very surprised to find completely different meanings for the lyrics of "Pop Goes the Weasel" than I had been taught. As a spinner and weaver I have been explaining to people for many years why the yarn winder is called a weasel.

In order for the spinner to take her carefully spun yarn to the weaver, she had to know the yardage in each of her skeins. The weaver knew the yardage necessary for making coverlets, table linens and fabric for clothing.

A busy woman, probably with many children to watch, could hardly take the time to measure each full bobbin of hand spun yarn. She instead wound the yarn off the bobbins onto an upright yarn winder, not to be confused with a niddy-noddy, which was for hand winding.

She could hardly be expected to sit there and count the revolutions of the winder's wheel without either losing track or getting dizzy, so a thin, small slat of wood was placed into the winding mechanism of the axle of the wheel.

She would set the hand of the counter, mounted on the side of the post, to zero and start turning. She knew the diameter of her weasel's wheel and thus each revolution was so many inches. Most weasels measured a yard around the four arms that made up the wheel. The counter would move forward a notch for each complete revolution and when it reached the starting place the slat of wood inside would hit a tiny peg and make a loud "pop" as it slid over it.

Thus pop goes the weasel! She only had to keep track of how many times the weasel went pop to know the yardage she had spun.

I have two antique yarn winders that still have their "popper" intact and the children love to wait with great anticipation for the ratchet to go "POP!" The popper was easily worn out and many old skein winders just need a new piece of thin wood to make them pop again. Your earlier versions of the song probably led to the creation of the later spinning song."

Pop goes the weasel
Nursery Rhyme lyrics, origins and history

Half a pound of tuppenny rice,
Half a pound of treacle.
Thatís the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel.
Up and down the City road,
In and out the Eagle,
Thatís the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel.

Alternative Lyrics

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

Alternative Lyrics (2)*

Every night when I go out
The monkey's on the table
Take a stick and knock it off
Pop goes the weasel

Alternative Lyrics (3)*

Round and round the mulberry bush
The monkey chased the weasel.
The monkey stopped to pull up his socks
And Pop goes the weasel.

Additional Lyrics (4)*

I've no time to plead and pine
I've no time to wheedle
Kiss me quick, and then I'm gone
Pop! Goes the weasel"

Pop goes the weasel
Nursery Rhyme lyrics, origins and history

Nursery Rhymes - Lost Lyrics and Origins
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Note: A Rhymes lyrics and the perceived origins of some Nursery Rhymes vary according to location

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