'Hey, diddle, diddle' lyrics and what they mean

Did you know the origins of the nursery rhyme 'Hey diddle diddle' could go back 1,000 years? Here are the lyrics to the rather nonsense rhyme

'Hey, diddle, diddle' lyrics
Published: May 1, 2022 at 10:58 am

When was 'Hey, diddle, diddle' written?

Also known as 'The Cat and the Fiddle' and 'The Cow Jumped Over the Moon' the nursery rhyme 'Hey, diddle, diddle' dates back to the 16th century at least and could be as much as 1000 years old as in the early medieval times a cat playing a fiddle was a popular image.


Its melody was first recorded by the composer and nursery rhyme collector James William Elliott in his 1870 book National Nursery Rhymes and Nursery Songs

What's the meaning behind 'Hey diddle, diddle'?

From being connected to Hathor worship (an ancient Egyptian goddess) to being about Catherine, the wife of Peter the Great, there are lots of theories about the origin of the rhyme. Another theory is that it refers to various constellations or it has been put forward that it could be about Elizabeth, Lady Katherine Grey, and her relationships with the earls of Hertford and Leicester

The truth is probably we will never know the true origins of this rather nonsense nursery rhyme, but there's nothing wrong with a bit of speculation

What are the lyrics to 'Hey, diddle, diddle'?

Hey, diddle, diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon;
The little dog laughed,
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.


Top illustration by William Wallace Denslow

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