Pop goes the weasel

Posted by ESC on October 30, 2004

In Reply to: Pop goes the weasel posted by R. Fletcher on October 30, 2004

: Is it not more likely that this phrase is derived from "weasel & stoat" - coat? You would be more likely to pawn a coat in mild weather, then redeem it in the winter.

Here's what William and Mary say:

POP GOES THE WEASEL! - "From earliest childhood we remember with fondness the nonsense rhyme about the monkey and the weasel. Remember? 'Every night when I come home, The Monkey's on the table. I take a stick and knock him off. And Pop goes the Weasel!' Here is the background of the original, and far different, British version of this rhyme - which turns out to be not such nonsense after all. It runs: 'Up and down the City Road, In and out the Eagle, That's the way the money goes. Pop goes the weasel.' And would you believe that the whole silly rhyme started with some drunken London hatters, the kind that today's sociologists would label 'compulsive drinkers'? True. And here's the explanation. The City Road was a street in London where there was a much-liked tavern ('pub' in England, of course) called The Eagle. To it on Saturday nights, and maybe oftener, went many a hatmaker. If he was short of funds, as often happened, he pawned ('popped') his weasel (a hatmaker's tool). So there you have, unmasked, the sordid truth behind that simple nursery rhyme." From Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988).