“My Mother and Your Mother”


"My mother and your mother Were hanging out clothes; My mother came to your mother And snipped off her nose."


The text given here is sort of a reconstruction of something I vaguely remember. It's sort of an infant game; on the last line, the speaker grabs the listener's note between index and middle fingers and pretends to cut it off as with a scissors.

At least, that's what I remember. The Baring-Goulds have a different version of the rhyme ("My mother and your mother Went over the way, Said my mother to your mother, It's chop-a-nose day"), and their version of nose-chopping is two-handed.

Henry's informant had a very different version: Instead of nose-chopping, Mother #1 merely PULLED Mother #2's nose. Curiously, Henry's informant also claimed that there was more to the song.

Incidentally, while actually chopping off the nose was not common in history, slitting the nostrils as a punishment for crime is well-attested. - RBW


  1. Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #581, p. 234, "(My mother and your mother)"
  2. MHenry-Appalachians, p. 240, (no title) (1 short text)
  3. BI, MHAp240A


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1934 (Henry, from Mrs. Henry C. Gray, or her maid)
Keywords: mother clothes fight
Found in: US(MW)