Appalachia Rhymes

This Little Piggy

this little piggy rhyme

Chitter’s piggies

This little piggy went to market,
This little piggy stayed at home,
This little piggy had roast beef,
This little piggy had none.
And this little piggy went…
“Wee wee wee” all the way home…

This Little Piggy poem was first published in 1728. Wow can you imagine how many piggy toes have been jiggled since then?

History of the poem via Joe Offer of the Mudcat Cafe Forum:

There’s an entry in the Opies’ Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes:
This little pig went to market,
This little pig stayed at home,
This little pig had roast beef,
This little pig had none,
And this little pig cried, Wee-wee-wee-wee-wee, I can’t find my way home.

The first line of this infant amusement is quoted in a medley, ‘The Nurse’s Song’, written about 1728 and included by Ramsay in the fourth volume of The Tea-Table Miscellany (1740). It is the most common toe or finger rhyme in the present day, and has been so for more than a century.

FT Thumb’s LSB, C. 1760 / MG’S Melody, c. 1765, ‘This Pig went to Market, That Pig staid at Home; This Pig had roast Meat, That Pig had none; This Pig went to the Barn Door, And cry’d Week, Week, for more’
Songs for the Nursery, 1805 / Vocal Harmony, c. 1806 / Nurse Lovechild’s DFN, C. 1830 / Girl’s Own Book, Mrs. Child, 1831 [1832] This Little Pig Went to Market, Walter Crane, 1869
N & Q, 1890, 3rd finger ‘This little pig had bread and butter’; 1891, ‘This little pig said, Me a bit, me a bit, me a bit, before it all be gone’
Pigling Bland, Beatrix Potter, 1913 / This Little Pig Went to Market, L. Leslie Brooke, 1922.

The Opies make no note of any political implications of this song/rhyme. It’s just a finger/toe counting rhyme.

Here’s “Song for Five Toes,” also from Opie:
Let’s go to the wood, says this pig,
What to do there? says that pig,
To look for my mother, says this pig,
What to do with her? says that pig,
Kiss her to death, says this pig.

Also take a look at this one from the same source:

This pig got in the barn, This ate all the corn,
This said he wasn’t well, This said he would go and tell,
And this said—weke, weke, weke,
Can’t get over the barn door sill.

Note the various interpretations of “Wee-wee-wee-wee-wee”:
Weke, weke, weke
Me a bit, me a bit, me a bit
And cry’d Week, Week, for more’

I suppose there are political implications to some nursery rhymes, but I think perhaps we go to far in trying to read too much into too many of them. I think most are what they appear to be – just for fun.

-Joe Offer-

Joe Offer posted the information above on the MudCat Cafe Forum in reply to someone who was looking for the history of the rhyme and wondering if it was related to conflicts between France and England.

Fascinating that the rhyme has been around in various forms for so long. And I personally don’t think the Little Piggy rhyme will ever go out of fashion-baby piggy toes are just too cute not to sing too.


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  • Reply
    potato queen
    April 24, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Piggies! My mom always sang the last line “And this little piggy said ‘Wee wee wee I want some!'” Nobody else seems to have ever heard this version.

  • Reply
    April 20, 2014 at 7:45 am

    Who’d have thought folks were pinching toes and reciting this verse hundreds of years ago! And Ed Ammon’s comment really touched my heart. AND today I learned a new expression from b. Ruth: “a new wrinkle in my horn”! My goats have lovely ridge patterns in their horns, and I suppose now it must be because they are always learning new things. Which explains why they are all so darn smart! I’m visiting another goat farm today and will ask the folks here if they’ve heard that expression. If not, I’ll bet we’ll all be using it by the end of the day.
    You’ve done it again Tipper! Interesting post, bringing out interesting comments 🙂

  • Reply
    April 19, 2014 at 2:14 am

    I suppose I must have had sweet little toes like that several decades ago. I certainly remember my mother singing the rhyme, though I often wondered why someone would feed roast beef to a pig!

  • Reply
    Donna W
    April 18, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    I say this one all the time to the 8-month-old girl I babysit. She loves it, as all babies do.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    April 18, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    For the last line, My Aunt Lela from Louisiana said, “Can’t get over the doorstep.” But other than that, I have always heard — and used — “all the way home.”
    Little toes are the very sweetest things!

  • Reply
    Jane Bolden
    April 18, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    Love it! My daddy use to say wee, wee, wee can’t get up the doorstep.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    April 18, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    How I wish I could recall those younger
    fun days of counting toes. As with most
    parents, I’ve done it with my girls as
    they were little boogers. It don’t take
    much to get that wholesome laughter
    from them when they’re little…Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 18, 2014 at 7:53 am

    Today’s post seemed a little humdrum to me. Nothing here to start my brain on a chilly cloudy morning. But I’ll read through it anyway. So down I scroll just looking at words. Until suddenly it hits me, “Can’t get over the barn door sill!” That’s what mommy used to say. 60 some years ago. I’m sitting on her lap. She’s leaning over me, reaching down and tugging at my toes. I can’t yet remember what the others toes said, but the little one I remember now.
    Thanks Tipper! Once again you’ve made my day!

  • Reply
    April 18, 2014 at 7:52 am

    This brings back lots of fond memories. Even Pat a cake is another one that will never die. This was enjoyable.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    April 18, 2014 at 7:44 am

    Oh how I love those sweet little toes…
    How many time I have played This Little Piggy with my grandchildren and other children that I watched over through the years..
    What I’m going to tell you was a “new wrinkle on my horn” years ago, after learning early on the original poem and tune to it.
    First…Get yourself in a swinging, happy boogie woogie mood (think Stevie Wonder or Ray Charles)..As you grab the toeies, rock your shoulders back and forth and sing soulfully;
    This little piggy went to marrrrket…annnnd this little piggy stayeed home…and this little pigggy had roooaaast beef, annnd (lower your tone and slow the rhythm down a bit”) thisss little pigggyy had noone…(now jazz up the sound, movement and rock a bit)grab the last baby toe,
    annnnddd THIS litttle pigggy was a DANCING little pigggy and HE
    “BOOGIE-WOOGIED” all the way hooommme! You’ll get cheers and giggles and hear “Mammaw, dance the little piggy?”
    My Children’s Rhymes book by Robert Ford…comments on favorite poems of Scotland…
    This little pig went to the market, This little pig stayed at home; This little pig got roast beef, This little pig got none; This little pig cried, Squeak! squeak! I can’t find my way home.
    Those little piggies sure make some different sound huh!
    The common one I grew up with was the first one you listed…It was later that I learned The Boogie-Woogie Piggy…
    Thanks Tipper, I enjoyed this post and my youngest grandson
    (kindergarden) when he is a silly mood and barefooted…will stick his barefoot in my lap and ask,
    “Do the dancing little piggy”…or Fishy Feet….
    I’ll have to wait til later to tell you about Fishy Feet!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 18, 2014 at 7:44 am

    Those are beautiful little piggy toes in the picture. It’s hard to remember that Chitter had those precious little toes.
    As I was reading through this post I wondered if there was going to be a political connection and I was much received to find that there was none.
    It seems terrible to me to use children’s rhymes to make a political statement.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    April 18, 2014 at 7:25 am

    Such a cute little rhyme for the little ones too.

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