phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Liar, liar

Posted by ESC on July 30, 2000

In Reply to: Origin posted by Jem on July 30, 2000

: Origin of the phrase "Liar,Liar pants on fire."

LIAR, LIAR - "Liar, liar, pants on fire, hang them up on telephone wire. (Said to a lying child)" This is a "derisive rhyme" used by children. "Tradition teaches the child to use sayings in certain situations to make a point emphatically. Such sayings can provide a quick and easy response to the taunt of another child, or a powerful demonstration of the child's stand. The sayings contain a collective wisdom that exerts a certain amount of pressure on children. In other cases, sayings offer a form of play with words; children use the traditional structure of such sayings to play with the rhythm, rhyme, and meaning of words to draw attention to themselves."

From "American Children's Folklore: A Book of Rhymes, Games, Jokes, Stories, Secret Languages, Beliefs and Camp Legends for Parents, Grandparents, Teachers, Counselors and All Adults Who Were Once Children" by Simon J. Bronner (August House Inc., Little Rock, Ark., 1988).