There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

Song Video

Information About There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

The lyrics of "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly" were written by Alan Mills and then sung by Rose Bonne. However, the version that is the most, well known is sung by Burl Ives in 1953.

The song tells a tale of a woman that swallows a series of animals starting from the smallest, leading to the biggest which is a horse. However, lyrics have been changed over time from dying to I don't know why.

This song has been used in a series of children's books, while also being sung in some well-known shows such as The Muppets and movies such as A Bug's Life.

Peer International (Canada) Ltd. bought the song's copyright 1952 and has held the copyright since 1966.

After the "dog" verse, there is another verse that you can add and it goes: "I knew an old lady who swallowed a goat; Just opened her throat and swallowed a goat!' She swallowed the goat to catch the dog".

There is a book called "The Fireside Book of Childrens Songs" collected and edited by Marie Winn, published by Simon & Schuster under Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 65-171.

Alternative Lyrics & Related Songs

Here is another fun version

There was an old lady who swallowed a fly.
I don't now why she swallowed a fly. Perhaps she'll die!

There was an old lady who swallowed a spider
that wriggled and wiggled and wriggled and tickled inside her.

She swallowed a spider to catch the fly.
I don't now why she swallowed a fly. Perhaps she'll die!

There was an old lady who swallowed a bird.
How absurd to swallow a bird.

She swallowed the bird to catch the spider.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly
I don't know why she swallowed a fly. Perhaps she'll die!

There was an old lady who swallowed a cat.
Fancy that to swallow a cat.

She swallowed the cat to catch the bird.
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly
I don't know why she swallowed a fly. Perhaps she'll die!

There was an old lady who swallowed a dog.
What a hog to swallow a dog.

She swallowed the dog to catch the cat.
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird.
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly
I don't know why she swallowed a fly. Perhaps she'll die!

There was an old lady who swallowed a cow.
I don't know how she swallowed a cow.

She swallowed the cow to catch the dog.
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat.
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird.
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly
I don't know why she swallowed a fly. Perhaps she'll die!

There was an old lady who swallowed a horse...
She's dead, of course!

Listen to this song's music

66 Comments

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owen, United States

7 October 2014 at 11:34pm

...

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Anomalous, United States

28 July 2014 at 4:59am

Good song but dark

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Joelle, Sacramento, California, USA

18 June 2014 at 5:14am

I heard this over 35 years ago, but only remembered and recited the part about the fly and the spider. I'm glad I now know the whole thing. It is so silly and fun to share with young kids and makes me feel young again.

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Ruby, Clydebank, Scotland

2 June 2014 at 1:12pm

On a recent visit to Lourdes in France, I heard a song which reminded me of this one and I just had to look it up because I'd forgotten some of the animals the old lady swallowed. I first heard this about 60 years ago on the 'wireless'. We also sang 'wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her' and it was 'Perhaps she'll die'. I remember there being a goat and a pig as well and yes, it's a fun song!

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Qwonae Thompson, Cayman Islands

18 May 2014 at 4:33pm

I really like the fun version its much more fun that way. I have to practice the poem for a school performance but the one we are doing is the fun version which is the right one. Although the one we are doing doesn't have a cow involved in it at all. THANKS FOR THAT AWESOME POEM!!!

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jax, Canada

22 January 2014 at 3:23am

@Rachel from Canada What is inappropriate about swallowing spiders?

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steven, from yo mama

16 December 2013 at 9:38pm

its okay

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mirian, poland

3 December 2013 at 7:19pm

hay where is my cow i dont mean cow i mean cow meat

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Beth, USA

2 September 2013 at 11:54am

C'mon, folks! Silliness is part of the enjoyment of being a child! Rhyming makes even "silliness" a little more instructive. Memorizing sequence is instructive, when "logic" cannot intervene. Why not have fun, doing it as a child, which can only help you later on? I didn't have this ditty when I was a child, and feel that I was "left out". Now, I enjoy it, and would encourage any mother to afford it to her children for fun and the resulting benefits of learning just about anything. You never know when you might need it! (Perhaps when you have children.)

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Haley, United States

16 April 2013 at 4:17pm

I love that song it is so pretty!

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Casey, United States

28 March 2013 at 2:35pm

I've heard this song for the last 20 years. My grandfather sang it to my mom, then mom sang it to me, and I now sing it to my son. It's tradition.

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Connor, United States

6 November 2012 at 7:13pm

This song is so good I was lying on the couch with my mom and out of no where one of us started to sing it.maybe it was my dog?

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Jax, Canada

25 September 2012 at 1:15am

liz? rachel? yor parents obviously taught you it was ok to wear socks with sandals, smoke, and put your fingers in an electric fan

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Allie, United States

15 July 2012 at 3:53am

I have sung this song and read this book since I was able to read. I love and I am going to enjoy teaching it to my summer program class for elementary children as well as my own children when God blesses we with one. It is a good way to include music, drama, and reading into your lessons.

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Pam, United States

9 July 2012 at 7:22pm

to the woman who posted this song is not for children and parents who sing it to their children must be mad? well i loved this song as a child, it taught me humor, maybe you should lighten up?

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Jax, Canada

29 June 2012 at 7:20pm

the snake verse can also be between the spider and the bird

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Jax, Canada

29 June 2012 at 7:17pm

you can add a verse between the dog and the goat: i know an old lady who swallowed a snake/ what a mistake to swallow a snake

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Tina, Jamaica

23 May 2012 at 1:17am

this is the best story every

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Morven, United Kingdom

20 March 2012 at 5:02pm

I don't know why, but repetitive songs and books annoy me slighly... I think it's because things are repeated that I already know, and I don't need for it to be stated again.

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Abdulkhalek, Syrian Arab Republic

28 February 2012 at 11:22pm

It's an interesting song for children. thank you a lot

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