Pop Goes the Weasel
saocrackers
I have found out a meaning for the rhyme Pop Goes the Weasel, but was wondering if anyone could explain exactly what or who the monkey is. Thanks.
'Round and 'round the cobbler's bench
The monkey chased the weasel,
The monkey thought 'twas all in fun
Pop! Goes the weasel. :confused
AdSumADS
English hatters would pawn ("pop") their weasel (a hat-making tool) in order pay their bar tabs. In the original rhyme, the word is "money," which was later bastardized to "monkey" in the American versions of the rhyme which also altered the drama.


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



Every night when I come home,
The Monkey's on the table.
I take a stick and knock him off
An pop goes the weasel!
saocrackers
Thank you so much for your reply. I was wondering what the connection was between money and monkey and couldn't work out where the change occured. Once again, thanks
AdSumADS
Elsewhere on Word For Word: Pop Goes the Weasel.

Also, I seem to remember an Americanized version having "...all around the Mulberry bush..."

zarnoch
A Rhyme and A Reason


Pop! Goes the Weasel


All around the mulberry bush
The monkey chased the weasel,
The monkey thought 'twas all in fun.
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 of the Eagle.
That's the way the money goes,
Pop! Goes the weasel!

Half a pound of tupenney rice,
Half a pound of treacle,
Mix it up amd make it nice,
Pop! Goes the weasel!

This source comes from Michael Algar who says that this might refer to silk weavers. The silk weavers in question were descended from Protestant Hugenot refugees who fled France during the late 17th century. They then settled in an eastern suburb of London. Being silk weavers they cultivated mulberry bushes because the leaves are a dietary source for the silkworm. The "weasel" may refer to the weaver's shuttle which could be pawned ("popped") for money when times were tough. The City Road is a main road leading from London's eastern suburbs to the center of London's business district. The Eagle is a tavern on City Road. Tupenney is a "tuppence," which is British currency worth about two pennies. The word "treacle" is British for molasses.
From JD Lewis comes this idea: When people spun their own wool for weaving they used a yarn winder to measure the yarn into a skein. When the wheel went around enough to wind the length of the skein the yarn winder was geared to make a "popping" sound. This let the person know that the skein was finished winding. The name of the winder was "weasel." This song was possibly sang while waiting for the "pop."
The page The Pioneer Story by Max Bertola agrees that rhyme originated with spinning yarn. He further adds that when the yarn was finished winding into skeins a clock-like device--called the "weasel"--inside of the reel would pop after 40 turns.
David Craig states yet a different idea. He says that the word "pop" does mean to pawn, and is still used today. But, he says that "weasel" is a "straight forward Cockney rhyming slang: Weasel and Stoat=Coat." On Thursday, when housekeeping money had run out, the wife would "pop her old man's weasel (pawn her husband's coat), in order to put some food on the table. On Saturday, after payday, she would redeem the pawn, so hubby could wear his coat to church on Sunday." He also says that it is from the late-19th century and originally sung in a m usic hall, but "escaped" to the streets. The reason for it being of this time period is that "half a pound of Tupenny rice, half a pound of treacle" would have been a lot to pay in the 17th century. But the price and quantity of the rice is about right for the 1890's.
Similar to what David says the page Phrase Finder Says this: "In the pawnbroking business 'popping' is the term used for reclaiming articles previously pawned to the broker. Weasel is a corruption of whistle, in cockney rhyming slang whistle and flute i.e. suit. So, 'pop goes the weasel' describes the process of reclaiming a suit from a pawnbroker."
In the book "The New International Dictionary of Quotes" (page 232) it says that this rhyme may have been written by a W.R. Mandale, but I have not been able to find anymore on this person, or rhyme. Alternate verses:

'Round and 'round the cobbler's bench
The monkey chased the weasel.
*The weasel thought it was such fun,
Pop! Goes the weasel!
(*Two other versions replace this line with "The monkey stopped to pull up his sock," or "The monkey stopped to lace up his shoes.")

Through an email I heard that the Eagle Tavern does still exist on the City Road. Also, there are two other businesses along that road that may or may not have anything to do with this rhyme, but are interesting coincidences nonetheless: There is a tavern called, "The Stick and Weasel" and there is a pawn broker at the top of City Road.
On a mailing list it says that the Eagle tavern was more of a music hall in the mid-19th century. The word "pop" did mean to pawn and "weasel" was a tool used by cobblers, hatters, and tailors. Pawning the weasel provided money that was needed to pay the entertainment at the Eagle. Or, in another idea the money was used to get a prostitute that frequented the tavern.
William McNeil, of "The Ozark Folk Center" has given me permission to use information he found and wrote about in an article titled "The Long History of 'Pop Goes the Weasel'" (The Ozarks Mountaineer: April 1994, vol. 42, no. 2). Mr. McNeil states that: "One of the most popular American songs of the 19th century has an interesting, and confused, history. Some scholars think it is of American origin; others think of it as an English song; some believe it is derived from a child's song, and still others associate it with a country dance."
He further states that this song was a "popular child's singing game in Britain" in the year 1620. In this year, when the Pilgrims came to America they brought the song with them. In the early 18th century this song was adapted to fit with contra dancing and by the 1750's it "was a regional favorite." This lively tune spread across the nation with each new group of people adding or making up their own verses. It was really popular among fiddlers of the time.
By the 1850's this song still wasn't published, but was widely known. By 1853 both England and America had finally published this song--although it is not known which country did it first. On March 14, 1853 there was a version without words copyrighted. And, in New York, in the same year there was claim to a copyright. However, the Library of Congress has no such record. Also in that year claim was laid to this song in Philadelphia. Out of these three New York is the only one to have published actual words--but not the sames one that exist today. The earliest printed evidence of this song is in 100 Comic Songs by J.W. Turner, et al., in 1858. This version had (yet again) a different verse which is as follows: "All around the cobbler's house, The monkey chas'd the people, And after them in double haste, Pop went the weasel!"
McNeil also says that "Several claimants have been offered as the original lyricist, including T.C. Andrews and Charles Twiggs. It seems unlikely that any of these men wrote the song. Probably they merely placed their name on pre-existing material." He also agrees with the information above from other sources on the meanings to the words "pop" and "weasel".
This is an American version that McNeil puts in his article:

All around the cobbler's bench
The monkey chased the weasel
The monkey though 'twas all in fun
Pop goes the weasel.

I've no time to wait and sigh
No patience to wait till by 'n by
So kiss me quick, I'm off, goodbye
Pop goes the weasel.

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

You may try to sew and sew
And never make something regal
So roll it up and let it go
Pop goes the weasel.

I went to a lawyer today
For something very legal
He asked me how much I'm willing to pay
Pop goes the weasel.

I will bargain all my days
But never again so feeble
I paid for ev'ry legal phrase
Pop goes the weasel.

A painter would his lover paint
He stood before the easel
A monkey jumped all over the paint
Pop goes the weasel.

When his lover she did laugh
His temper got very lethal
He tore the painting up in half
Pop goes the weasel.

I went hunting up in the woods
It wasn't very legal
The dog and I were caught with the goods
Pop goes the weasel.

I said I didn't hunt or sport
The warden looked at me beagle
He said to tell it to the court
Pop goes the weasel.

My son and I went to the fair
And there were lots of people
We spent a lot of money, I swear
Pop goes the weasel.

I got sick from all the sun
My sonny boy got the measels
But still we had a lot of fun
Pop goes the weasel.

I went up and down the coast
To find a golden eagle
I climbed the rocks and thought I was close
Pop goes the weasel.

But alas I lost my way
Saw nothing but just a sea gull
I tore my pants and killed the day
Pop goes the weasel.

I went to a grocery store
I thought a little cheese'll
Be good to catch a mouse in the floor
Pop goes the weasel.

But the mouse was very bright
He wasn't a mouse to wheedle
He took the cheese and said "goodnight"
Pop goes the weasel.
My thanks go out to Mr. McNeil for his article and for his permission to use it on my pages.

At Kid Songs there are some different verses:


Johnny's got the whooping cough and
Mary's got the measles
That's the way the money goes
Pop -- goes the weasel!

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

Put some pepper on its nose
And you'll make it sneeze-l
Catch it fast before it snaps --
Pop -- goes the weasel!

A penny for a cotton ball
A penny for a needle
That's the way the money goes
Pop -- goes the weasel!

If you want to buy a pig
Buy a pig with hairs on
Every hair a penny a pair
Pop -- goes the weasel!

GAME: This rhyme is played as a game, as well. On a page of childrens' games there is this description for a game: "Choose one child to be the weasel. Have the rest of the children divided into even groups. In each group number the children off 1,2,3, and so on The weasel stands in the centre as the groups dance around him in their own circles singing 'pop goes the weasel'. When a number is called all the children of that number and the weasel join in a circle in the middle dancing and singing 'pop goes the weasel' while the other children remain in their own group's circle around the outside. When 'pop goes the weasel' is reached all those children run to find an empty circle, the other groups have formed on the outside. The remaining child is the weasel.

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