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Children’s Nursery Rhyme ‘Incy Wincy Spider’ Has Very Dark Origins

Children’s Nursery Rhyme ‘Incy Wincy Spider’ Has Very Dark Origins


Did you know Incy Wincy Spider has it’s origins in a song that is anything but child friendly? And no, it has nothing to do with a cute looking spider!

When singing ‘Incy Wincy Spider’ we all assumed it was about a spider climbing up a drainpipe before getting washed back down by rain and having a go at climbing back again.

And while yes, the song now is about a cute spider, the origins of the tune are pretty dark and sinister. Like many nursery rhymes it has a catchy tune with seemingly pretty harmless lyrics, but the real meaning behind the song is pretty dark.

So the lyrics we all sing are: “Incy Wincy Spider climbed up the water spout, down came the rain, and washed the spider out. Out came the sun, and dried up all the rain, and Incy Wincy Spider went up the spout again.”

Cute, right?

Well apparently the song is a remake of an American tune about poor people getting drunk and jumping onto trains to their deaths. The song is called ‘Tipsy Dipsy Hobo’ and it’s sung with the same rhythm.

It goes: “The Tipsy Dipsy Hobo drinks from the lager spout, here comes the train it knocks the hobo out. Out comes a man to pick up all the brains, but a Tipsy Dipsy Hobo drinks from the spout again.”


The song originated during the American Civil War when trains were becoming a popular means of transport. Poor people who couldn’t afford the fare would try to jump onto them while they were moving, usually while drunk.

So basically it’s a song about the poorest people in society meeting a gruesome death while struggling with alcoholism. And an error of judgement gets them killed and then the whole cycle repeats again as another person falls victim to drink.

Did you know this about ‘Incy Wincy Spider?’

Related article: The Disturbing and Intriguing Meanings Behind Your Favourite Childhood Nursery Rhymes

Images: Pixabay and YouTube

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Chrystal Lovevintage

Chrystal Lovevintage

Chrystal is a writer and blogger who loves nothing more than watching back to back episodes of crime shows. Should she ever find herself needing to cover up a crime, she'll know exactly what to do! Her dream is to one day live in Palm Springs where she can do her writing poolside while drinking endless gin and tonics. Mum to the cutest twin boys in the world, she loves nothing more than the sound of their laughter (usually heard when they're conspiring against her). Entertainment writer and pop culture junkie, she will be bringing you all the celebrity gossip and news that your brain can handle. You can follow her blog at and on Instagram at Chrystalovevintage

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