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1001 Stories Collection

Hey Diddle Diddle

Added on 29th June 2020

Nursery Rhyme Origins unknown
First Published 1765

A lovely old nonsense rhyme with the fiddle playing cat and the cow who is over the moon.


Hey diddle diddle

The cat and the fiddle

The cow jumped over the moon

The little dog laughed to see such fun

And the dish ran away with the spoon!

Why we chose it

A popular nonsense nursery rhyme, it was in our original audio stories collection and also featured in the nursery rhyme room in our Time for Bed exhibition.

Where it came from

There are many theories about the origins of this rhyme. It has been suggested that the characters may represent constellations or that the rhyme has hidden references to Tudor monarchs with Katherine of Aragon being the cat or that it originated as a pub game which was played to fiddle music.

Where it went next

It was first printed in 1765 in Mother Goose’s Melodies in which version the spoon ran away with a fork.

The expression “over the moon” meaning ecstatic, much used at one time by footballers and football managers, is thought to come from this rhyme.

Associated stories

Mini Grey’s picture book The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon tells the story of what happened next to the pair. Set in the 1920s they run away to New York and become acrobats before falling in with bad company (a gang of knives) and being separated only to be finally reunited twenty five years later.

Find the mouse on the mural in Small Worlds.

Added on 29th June 2020

Nursery Rhyme Origins unknown
First Published 1765