"Itsy Bitsy Spider"
(also known as "Eensy Weensy Spider"
) is a popular nursery rhyme
that describes the adventures of a spider
as it ascends, descends and reascends the downspout or "waterspout" of a gutter
system (or, alternatively, the spout of a teapot
). It is usually accompanied by a sequence of gestures that mimic the words of the song. The most commonly referenced first published version was in 1962.
However, numerous earlier references can be found — for example, in Western Folklore
, by the California Folklore Society (1947) and The Growing Family: A Guide for Parents
by Maxwell Slutz Stewart (1955). An alternate version can be found much earlier in the book, Camp and Camino in Lower California
The Itsy Bitsy Spider or The Eensy Weensy Spider is sometimes chanted rather than sung. Recitation of the rhyme is often combined with actions representing the words. For the first (and last) line, alternately touch the thumb of one hand to the index finger of the other. For "Down came the rain" hold both hands up and wiggle the fingers as you lower the hands. For "washed the spider out" sweep the hands to the side. For the third line bring both hands up and then to the sides to sweep out a semi-circle (the sun). Then wiggle the fingers upwards (to show the rain drying in the sun), and repeat the thumb/index finger movement to indicate the spider climbing up the spout.
There are various versions of the lyrics:
- The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout.
- Down came the rain, and washed the spider out.
- Out came the sun, and dried up all the rain
- And the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again.
(Some versions have climbed
instead of went
Some scholars view the lyrics as an Absurdist metaphor in the tradition of Albert Camus's interpretation of the Sisyphus myth. This idea is borne out somewhat by the structural similarity between the two stories; A hero attempts to reach a great height, only to be pushed down by Forces out of their control, represented by Nature or the gods.
"Itsy-Bitsy" is the name of a character on the Thumb Wrestling Federation.
In popular culture