What Is the Meaning of the Statement "London Bridge Is Falling Down"?

The statement "London bridge is falling down" refers to the deterioration of the London Bridge. The statement does not refer to a particular bridge, as London Bridge was the name given to several 19th century bridges that spanned the River Thames. Although different materials were used to build or repair the bridges, they continued to deteriorate. "London Bridge is Falling Down" is also a nursery rhyme and game.

The nursery rhyme "London Bridge is Falling Down" dates back to the 17th century, although the exact origin is unknown. The nursery rhyme became popular in Britain and the United States during the 19th century. Much of the lyrics describe how many attempts were made to rebuild the bridge. For example, the statements "build it up with wood and clay" and "wood and clay will wash away" explain how the efforts to save or rebuild the bridges ultimately failed.

The "London Bridges Falling Down" game involves two people holding hands and lifting their arms to form a bridge as others pass underneath. As the song is sung, the arms are lowered until the "bridge" falls. Often, different lyrics are added to the rhyme when the game is played. The lyrics of the nursery rhyme are sung to the melody of the song "Nuts in May."