phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Phrases, Sayings and Idioms Home > Discussion Forum

Re: Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief

Posted by Pamela on October 24, 2006

In Reply to: Re: Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief posted by Bob on October 24, 2006

: : : : "Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief." Where did this phrase come from?

: : : It's a traditional counting rhyme. Children would pile all the prune stones, cherry stones or similar things from their dessert at the edge of the plate, then count them up using the rhyme to divine what their occupation would be when they grew up - or, in the case of girls, what their husband's occupation would be. The whole rhyme is:
: : : Tinker, tailor,
: : : Soldier, sailor,
: : : Rich man, poor man,
: : : Beggar man, thief.

: : I remember this version: "Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, / Doctor, lawyer, Indian chief." It sounds so familiar that it might be in Mother Goose, on which I learned to read. I didn't know it was a counting rhyme. ~rb

: It's been a great source for authors to find titles. Not quite up to Shakespeare's sonnets, or John Donne, but ....

We used the "tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggerman, thief. You are out!" version as an alternative to eenie meenie. Pamela