“Pop Goes the Weasel”


Words can be anything, as long as they have the phrase "Pop goes the weasel." The 1853 text talks of a weasel in a henhouse, temperance issues, and relations between Uncle Sam and John Bull

Supplemental text

Pop Goes the Weasel
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

Pop Goes de Weasel

From sheet music published 1853 by Stepehn T. Gordon.
The above is the spelling on the interior page; the
title page is inscribed
  Pop goes
     the weazel
   Arranged by
Chas. Twiggs Esq.

When de night walks in, as black as a sheep,
And de hen and her eggs am fast asleep,
Den into her nest with a sarpent's creep,
"Pop goes de Weasel."
Oh all de dance dat evver was plann'd
To galvanize de heel and de hand,
Dar's none dat moves so gay and grand As
"Pop goes de Weasel."
De lover, when he pants t'rough fear,
to pop de question to his dear,
He joins dis dance, den in her ear,
"Pop goes de Weasel."

John Bull tells, in de ole cow's hum,
How Uncle Sam used Uncle Tom,
While he makes some white folks slaves at home,
   By "Pop goes de Weasel!"
He talks about a friendly trip
To Cuba in a steam war-ship,
But Uncle Sam may make him skip
   By "Pop goes de Weasel!"
He's sending forth his iron hounds
To bark us off de fishin'-grounds --
He'd best beware of Freedom's sounds
   Ob "Pop goes de Weasel!"

De Temperance folks from Souf to Main,
Against all liquor spout and strain,
But when dey feels an ugly pain
   Den "Pop goes de Weasel!"
All New York in rush now whirls
While de World's Fair its flag unfurls,
But de best World's Fair am when our girls
   Dance "Pop goes de Weasel!"
Den form two lines straight as a string,
Dance in and out, den three in a ring --
Dive under like de duck, and sing
   "Pop goes de Weasel!"

          *** B ***

As printed in Alice B. Gomme, The Traditional Games of England,
Scotland, and Ireland, pp. 63-64. The first verse is from Earls
Heaton, the second from "A. Nutt."

Half a pound of tup'ny rice,
  Half a pound of treacle;
Mix it up and make it nice,
  Pop goes the weasel.

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

          *** C ***

As printed in Vance Randolph, Ozark Folksongs, Volume III,
pp. 368-369. Randolph's #556, the A text. Collected 1926 from
Mrs. Marie Wilbur of Pineville, Missouri.

All around the countin' house
The monkey chased the weasel,
The merchant kissed the farmer's wife,
Pop goes the weasel!

A nickel for a hank of thread,
A penny for a needle,
The peddlar kissed the merchant's wife,
Pop goes the weasel!

Fifteen cents for calico,
An' ten cents more for needles,
That's where all my money goes,
Pop goes the weasel!

          *** D ***

Fragment from Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big
Woods, chapter 5. The setting is not historical; the Ingalls
family did not in fact live in Wisconsin when Laura was the
age described in the book. The piece must therefore be regarded
as undated, though a date of 1871/2 is claimed.

A penny for a spool of thread,
Another for a needle,
That's the way the money goes --
Pop! Goes the weasel!

All around the cobbler's bench,
The monkey chased the weasel,
The preacher kissed the cobbler's wife --
Pop! goes the weasel!

          *** E ***

Civil War version printed in [H. M. Wharton], War Songs and
Poems of the Southern Confederacy, p. 387.

King Abraham is very sick,
  Old Scott has got the measles,
Manassas we have now at last --
  Pop goes the weasel!

    All around the cobbler's house
    The monkey chased the people,
    And after them in double haste
      Pop goes the weasel!

When the night walks in as black as a sheep,
And the hen on her eggs was fast asleep,
When into her nest with a serpent's creep
  Pop goes the weasel!

    Of all the dance that ever was planned
    To galvanize the heel and the hand,
    There's none that moves so gay and grand
      As pop goes the weasel!

          *** F ***

Version learned from my father, Frederick M. Waltz, circa
1965. Loosely remembered. I'm quite sure the second line of
the final verse was his own invention.

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

A penny for a spool of thread,
A nickel for a needle,
That's where all the money goes;
Pop! goes the weasel.

A penny for a loaf of bread,
A nickel for a beagle,
That's where all the money goes;
Pop! goes the weasel.


The history of this piece is obscure. The earliest datable printings (British and American versions from 1853) have the tune; the American version also includes the phrase "Pop goes the weasel," but has little resemblance to the modern texts such as "All around the cobbler's bench The monkey chased the weasel" (this text does not appear until the twentieth century).

The English printing (the NLScotland broadside cited) is a dance tune with no text; it hints that the music is traditional. Interestingly, printer Lindsay has another version (the Murray broadside) which does have a text -- but it appears rewritten, since it refers to "Albert and the Queen" dancing to the tune, and girls being ruined by its melody.

It is generally agreed that, in the earliest versions, the "weasel" is the tool used by hatmakers, and to "pop" it is to pawn it. - RBW

Cross references


  • Murray, Mu23-y1:060, "Pop Goes the Weasel," James Lindsay (Glasgow), 19C, possibly a parody on another version of the piece
  • NLScotland, L.C.178.A.2(032), "Pop Goes the Weael", James Lindsay (Glasgow), 1852-1859


  1. Randolph 556, "Pop Goes the Weasel" (2 texts, 1 tune)
  2. Randolph/Cohen, pp. 408-409, "Pop Goes the Weasel" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 556A)
  3. BrownIII 93, "Pop Goes the Weasel" (1 fragment)
  4. Linscott, pp. 107-108, "Pop! Goes the Weasel" (1 tune plus dance instructions)
  5. RJackson-19CPop, pp. 176-179, "Pop Goes de Weasel" (1 text, 1 tune)
  6. Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #872, p. 325, "(Up and down the city road)"
  7. Montgomerie-ScottishNR 108, "(Round about the porridge pot)" (1 text)
  8. Arnett, p. 40, "Pop Goes the Weasel" (1 text, 1 tune)
  9. Silber-FSWB, p. 34, "Pop Goes The Weasel" (1 text)
  10. Fuld-WFM, pp. 440-441+, "Pop Goes the Weasel"
  12. ST R556 (Full)
  13. Roud #5249
  14. BI, R556


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1853
Found in: US(Ap,MW,NE,SE,So)