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Ding A Derry

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on November 16, 2005

In Reply to: Ding A Derry posted by Nanette Strunk on November 16, 2005

: Sorry, the person who said the words Ding A Derry do not have meaning are very wrong. They do have meaning and I found that out the other day. First of all the words are not dingadairy as I had thought, but ding a derry. Now, break the words up is what I was always taught in school. Okay, ding has a meaning and we all know it. Ding means the sound of a bell like "Ding,Dong merrilly on high in heaven bells are ringing." or "Ding, Dong the witch is dead..." So, Ding means just that to ring out a merry sound.

: Now, Derry is a word,too. Derry refers to the name of a man, or a type of land.

: So, now put Ding a Derry together. What do you get? Ring a Land? Well, how about Ring merrily through the land. Or Wonderland. Since Alice in Wonderland was probably being made at the time through Walter Disney, MGM would have had to get copyright permission to sing the words Wonderland. So, you have Ding a derry....

I'm afraid you're talking out of the back of your head. "Derry" is not "a type of land". Still less is it anything to do with "Wonderland". Apart from being the name of a town in Northern Ireland, and an (extremely rare) male forename, the Oxford English Dictionary simply describes it as "a nonsense word used in song refrains". It is is used in any number of folksong refrains throughout the English-speaking world, e.g. "hey ho the derry-o", "down down hey derry down" (or even Tolkien's Tom Bombadil singing "Hey! Come merry dol! derry dol!)" (VSD)