Nursery rhymes have been passed down from generation to generation and repeated for the enjoyment of young children for many years. You might be startled to learn how unsettling some of the lyrics’ meanings are if you pay close attention to certain of the words.


“It’s raining, it’s pouring.”

When the weather is bad, we frequently sing “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring,” but the line we should keep in mind is:

“He bumped his head and went to bed and couldn’t get up in the morning.”

He was unable to get up in the morning because he was dead.


“Hansel And Gretel”

I find it disturbing enough when children are ready to be baked in an oven.


“Three Blind Mice”

The song’s lyrics read as follows: “They all ran after the farmer’s wife Who cut off their tails with a carving knife.”

Isn’t it a bit morbid for children?


“Rock-A-Bye Baby”

“When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall. Down will come baby, Cradle and all.”

What youngster likes to learn that a baby has fallen from a tree?


“Ring Around The Rosie”

“Ring around the rosy A pocketful of posies “Ashes, Ashes” We all fall down!”

Although this rhyme may sound silly, it actually refers to the Black Plague since the bodies of those who perished from the disease were burned.


“Jack and Jill”

“Jack fell down and broke his crown, And Jill came tumbling after.”

Many people think that the story is actually modeled on King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, who were both murdered during the French Revolution, even though it appears to be about an innocuous task gone wrong.


“Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary”

“How does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockle shells And pretty maids all in a row.”

Although it looks benign, the rhyme is inspired by Bloody Mary, a 16th-century executioner of Protestants.


“There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly”

“There was an old lady who swallowed a fly I don’t know why she swallowed a fly — perhaps she’ll die!

There was an old lady who swallowed a horse… She’s dead, of course!”

But why?


“Humpty Dumpty”

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, All the King’s Horses and all the King’s men Couldn’t put Humpty together again.”

Contrary to how he is depicted, Humpty was actually a massive cannon that was placed on a tall church tower that resembled a wall during the Civil War.


“London Bridge”

“London Bridge bridge is falling down, down Falling down down, falling down, down London Bridge bridge is falling down, down My fair lady.

Take a key key and lock padlock her up, Lock padlock her up, lock padlock her up, Take a key key and lock padlock her up, My fair lady.”

This rhyme refers to Anne Boleyn, who was finally executed for treason and was King Henry VIII of England’s second wife.


“Little Red Riding Hood”

In my parenting guide, I forbid any tales in which a wolf devours a small girl and a sick grandmother and then needs to be dismembered to save them.


“The Little Match Girl”

A homeless girl who sells matches in the dead of winter is the subject of the narrative The Little Match Girl. She finally strikes her last match and passes away.

Not the ideal conclusion for children.


“Georgie Porgie”

“Georgie Porgie pudding and pie Kissed the girls and made them cry When the boys came out to play Georgie Porgie ran away.”

A Duke named George Villiers is said to have deserted Anne of Austria in order to follow King James I. It was a rhyme meant to poke fun of George, despite the fact that homosexuality wasn’t acceptable at the time.


“Pop Goes The Weasel”

“All around the mulberry bush The monkey chased the weasel; The monkey thought ’twas all in good sport 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.”

This song is about British poverty. “Pop Goes The Weasel” was intended to be a suit pawn. Many folks would temporarily borrow their suits for church on Sundays and pawn them for cash throughout the workweek.


“This Little Piggy”

“This little piggy went to market, This little piggy stayed home, This little piggy had roast beef, This little piggy had none, And this little piggy cried ‘wee wee wee’ all the way home.”

The pig that went to the market didn’t go shopping, so to speak. It was probably on display in a butcher shop. Yikes!