Ring Around the Rosie

This song is considered sensitive and contains lyrics that may be offensive to some people. Please speak to a parent or guardian for further help.

Information About Ring Around the Rosie

"Ring Around the Rosie" or "Ring a Ring o' Roses" is an English nursery rhyme and a playground or garden game as well. The rhyme was first recorded in 'Mother Goose or the Old Nursery Rhymes" in 1881; but it is possible the song and its melody date back a further 100 hundred years. The rhyme is better known as "Ring a Ring o" Roses" in the UK; also the words can differ region by region, although the tune remains consistent. There was also a German rhyme from 1796 that loosely resembled the words and actions of "Ring Around the Rosie".

A common theory suggests this song has its roots in the bubonic plague that swept through Europe. It was somewhat macabre, with references to a rosie ring (infection), posies (which supposedly warded off infection), and the cremation that was performed on those who died to prefent the spread of the disease. And you thought it was just a fun little rhyme! However, this theory appears to have emerged in more recent times and is considered by many folklore scholars to be baseless.

Notions associated with the meaning of this song

"Ring Around the Rosies".

This line was in reference to the red X with a circled around it that was drawn on the doors of homes to warn people that someone inside that house had been or is dying from the plague.

"Pocket full of posies".

This is in regards to the boils and blisters that often came with the plague.

"Ashes, ashes".

The bodies were indeed burned along with the homes and possessions of those who died.

"we all fall down".

It was believed in that dark time that this was the Lord's way of ridding the earth of the sinners and everyone would die.

Alternative Lyrics & Related Songs

You can use this as a 2nd verse

The cows are in the meadow
eating buttercups.
Thunder, lightening,
they all stand up!

Lyrics for the "A Ring a Ring of Roses" version

A ring, a ring of roses,
A pocket full of posies,
Tish-yoo, a-tish-yoo,
We all fall down.

This version has 3 verses which have different lyrics

The King has sent his daughter
To fetch a pail of water
Ah-tishoo, ah-tishoo
We all fall down

The bird upon the steeple
Sits high above the people
Ah-tishoo, ah-tishoo
We all fall down

The cows are in the meadow
Eating buttercups
Bringing up the posies
We all pop up!

This version has minor changes to the lyrics

Ring around the rosies
A pocket full of posies
Ashes, Ashes
All stand still

The King has sent his daughter
To fetch a pail of water
Ashes, Ashes
All fall down

The bird upon the steeple
Sits high above the people
Ashes, Ashes
All kneel down

The wedding bells are ringing
The boys and girls are singing
Ashes, Ashes
All fall down

This version has a verse in German and different lyrics

Ring around the rosie,
Pocket full of posies,
Ashes, ashes,
We all fall down!

Ringel, ringel, Rosen
Schöne Aprikosen
Weiß und blau
Vergiß mein nicht,
Alle Kinder setzen sich.

A ring, a ring, of roses
Pretty apricots
White and blue
Forget me not,
All children sit down.

Listen to this song's music

60 Comments

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Jason, United States

30 November 2013 at 7:22am

I remember when I was a kid, my brother and I would sing this song and do the dance that goes along with it(put hands together, spin around real quick and fall at the end) and when we all fell down, I did not get back up. I cracked my head open, blood spilling on the floor, my brother crying for my pregnant mother. At that time, my dad was towns away so my mom called the hospital which was miles away. I never sang it again...

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Lucy, Australia

13 May 2013 at 12:36pm

It is about the Black Death(plague).

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Randall, United States

30 January 2013 at 3:01am

not about the plague, if it was about the plaguethen there would be versions in middle english ( nothing recorded for 500 years of a song kids were singing all over the english speaking world?) look it up. snopes hads the best explanation. that this could be considered offensive except by a very few people who beleive any type of dancing is wrong...

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Eat The Rice, Fiji

26 January 2013 at 1:46am

I think this song is hurtful for some families who has lost someone in that war or in the great depression.This lady in the video may have thought it was a joke or thought it was just a game should be a SHAMED of herself .She should know the history behind this song and if she doesnt thats sad and she should probably goo back to school or look it up.

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Losa, American Samoa

26 January 2013 at 1:41am

DO THE "GANGNAM STYLE" THATs SOMETHING TO GROOVE TO...HOW ABOUT THAT FOLKs!

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Rock Of Samoa, American Samoa

26 January 2013 at 1:25am

You are such a lame person and didn't you know it is about bad thing about war and a lot of people died from a disease. I am 9 years old boy and i know of this because i saw it on the movie and all of you guy making videos like this one you can kiss it and as for you you need to go back to kinder and learn more ok and who ever hold the camera stop her.

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Mary, United States

11 December 2012 at 2:25pm

I looked on another website and it said it was about a witch hunt. Now I don't know which is right!

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Andy, Australia

4 December 2012 at 7:18pm

Like Dee said, please do some research before you get carried away with stories of death and doom. The song's link to the bubonic plague is an urban myth. The first known documented source of this comes from a book written in the 1960's. And the "all fall down" version is only one of many (albeit the most popular).

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Your Mum, Austria

2 December 2012 at 1:04pm

say vhat

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Jim, And Bob, And Some Other Guy., Fiji

8 November 2012 at 11:23pm

... Studying it >.:D

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Skye, United States

8 November 2012 at 6:39pm

ring around the rosie means the rings/circles people made to show respect to those who died, pocket full of posies means the pockets of people had the flower posie 'which is a flower that can put people to sleep, ashes ashes means the cremating of the people who died, we all fall down means the final destuction of life of any sort.

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Bob, United States

6 November 2012 at 3:11pm

Wow I never knew this song was about death

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Ac, United States

27 February 2012 at 8:28pm

I've grown up singing this song and when I was little I had fun singing it so I think that's all that matters.

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Dee, United States

14 January 2012 at 8:26pm

This is an example of how gullible we humans are. I learned a valuable lesson in the sixties. Do not believe everything you are told as being factual. Research and study a subject before coming to a conclusion. That way no one can get over on you.... If you look into the question of this children's song you will find it had nothing to do with the plague and is an innocent rhyme.

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Alanabo, Andorra

11 December 2011 at 5:58pm

beek a boo

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Alana, Austria

11 December 2011 at 5:56pm

hi

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Sarah, Australia

8 December 2011 at 1:55am

Yes, it's about the bubonic plague and yes it's rather macabre, but I don't believe that means children should be stopped from singing it. Children are more capable of accepting and resisting the darker themes of life than we give them credit for. I grew up singing this song. When I was nine I learned what it meant and thought it was even cooler- the song was about something real and tangible. I grew up fine and so did the millions of other children who have sung it in the hundreds of years it has been around.

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Cindy, United States

25 November 2011 at 7:34pm

i don't let my kids or family's kids sing or play the game. it is albout the BUBONIC PLAGUE that started in the 1800's. My kids and family don't like this song becuase some of my family died back in those days of the BUBONIC PLAGUE.

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Bun, Bahamas

25 November 2011 at 2:19am

im famous im famous WOOT WOOT WOOT YAAYAA WOO WHOO

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Nessa, Australia

24 October 2011 at 11:40pm

:0 i swear they changed the lyrics

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This song has been printed from the BusSongs.com website.