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This Old Man lyrics

Looking for a simple song to sing around the campfire? Here are the This Old Man lyrics.


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It's an ideal campfire song for the youngest children because the words are so easy to learn. Once you have learned the first verse and the tune, you can sing the whole song!




The words

This old man
He played one
He played knick-knack on my thumb
With a knick-knack paddy-wack
Give your dog a bone
This old man came rolling home

This old man
He played two
He played knick-knack on my shoe
With a knick-knack paddy-wack
Give your dog a bone
This old man came rolling home

This old man
He played three
He played knick-knack on my knee
With a...

This old man
He played four
He played knick-knack on my door...

This old man
He played five
He played knick-knack on my hive...

This old man
He played six
He played knick-knack on my sticks...

This old man
He played seven
He played knick-knack up in heaven...

This old man
He played eight
He played knick-knack on my gate...

This old man
He played nine
He played knick-knack on my spine...

This old man
He played ten
He played knick-knack once again
With a knick-knack paddy-wack
Give your dog a bone
This old man came rolling home!




The song's origins

The origins of This Old Man are unclear. It's probably an old English nursery rhyme or counting song. It's been around for a very long time!




The meaning of the This Old Man lyrics

Have you ever wondered what this song is talking about? You are not the only one!

Many nursery rhymes and old songs referred to contemporary events or politics, and the true meaning of most of them - including this one - has been lost over time.

Everyone has a theory about the meaning of the This Old Man lyrics. To understand the theories, you need to understand the outdated vocabulary. Here are possible meanings of some of the words:


paddywhack

  • a drunk, argumentative person
  • a spanking
  • an elastic, rubbery, inedible ligament in the neck of sheep or cattle


knick knack

  • a trinket
  • to steal
  • to bang 2 bones together in rhythm (similar to playing the spoons)
  • a petty trick


a knacker

  • someone who collected the carcasses of dead animals


Here's my theory:

  • This song is about an old fellow who traveled about town collecting animal carcasses.
  •  He cut them up and sold what he could. He gave the inedible bits to his dog.
  • He kept a couple of bones to use as rhythm instruments.
  •  At the end of the day, after he'd rolled his cart home, he and his dog would sit around and sing.
  • The old man would tap out the rhythm with the bones.

How's that?



What's your theory?

If you're the sort of person who wonders what song lyrics really mean...

...you're probably wondering what in the world Cat Stevens was thinking when he wrote "Moonshadow". No need to wonder any longer! You can read about the meaning of the Moonshadow lyrics right now!




More about This Old Man

  • As far as I can discover, This Old Man was first recorded in 1953 by Pete Seeger.
  • It was adapted in 1958 for the film "The Inn of the Sixth Happiness".
  • Does the tune sound familiar? It is the "I love you" theme of Barney, that annoying purple dinosaur.




Make up your own verses

This is a great song for using your creativity. Instead of a knee, what could the man use for playing paddy-wack? A tree? A bee? A golf tee?

Use your imagination and have fun!




Now that you know the This Old Man lyrics, and probably more about the song than you ever wanted to know, click here to find words to lots more campfire songs.


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