"Itsy Bitsy Spider" (also known as "Incy Wincy Spider" in Australia and Great Britain, and several other similar-sounding names) is a popular nursery rhyme and fingerplay 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 or open-air reservoir). It is usually accompanied by a sequence of gestures that mimic the words of the song. Its Roud Folk Song Index number is 11586.
Throughout this article, the North American title and lyrics are used to ensure consistency.
A commonly used version uses these words and gestures:
The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the waterspout.
Alternately touch the thumb of one hand to the index finger of the other.
Other versions exist.
The song can be found in publications including an alternative version in the book, Camp and Camino in Lower California (1910), where it was referred to as [the classic] "Spider Song." It appears to be a different version of this song using “blooming, bloody” instead of "itsy bitsy". It was later published in one of its several modern versions in Western Folklore, by the California Folklore Society (1948), Mike and Peggy Seeger's, American Folk Songs for Children (1948).
Lyrics as described in 1910, as being from the 'classic' "Spider Song":
Oh, the blooming, bloody spider went up the spider web,
The blooming, bloody rain came down and washed the spider out,
The blooming, bloody sun came out and dried up all the rain,
And the blooming, bloody spider came up the web again.
The song is sung by and for children in countless languages and cultures. It is similar to the melodies of the children's songs "Sweetly Sings the Donkey" in the United States, and "Auf der Mauer, auf der Lauer", "Ich bin ein kleiner Esel" (the German-language version of "Sweetly Sings the Donkey") and "Spannenlanger Hansel" in German-speaking countries.
This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2019)
The popular nursery rhyme has been covered and sampled a number of times.
- 1980: Patsy Biscoe (as "Incy Wincy Spider") CD: 50 Favourite Nursery Rhymes Vol. 1, also available as 3-CD set 150 Favourite Nursery Rhymes
- 1986: Carly Simon on the Heartburn film and on the Coming Around Again album
- 1988: Carly Simon on the Greatest Hits Live album
- 1989: Nicole Kidman on the Dead Calm soundtrack (as "Incy Wincy")
- 1991: Little Richard on the Disney CD For Our Children, to benefit the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
- 1994: Cedarmont Kids on Toddler Tunes
- 1995: Danish-Norwegian pop band Aqua, then known by their original band name Joyspeed, released a single only "Itsy Bitsy Spider"
- 1996: Jack Hartmann on Rhymin' to the Beat
- 2001: Funkeymonkeys on their self-titled album
- 2002: The Mars Volta sampled the rhyme on their song "Eunuch Provocateur" from their extended play Tremulant
- 2002: Raffi sang this song on his Let's Play album by adding an additional verse
- 2002: Joey DeLuxe during the credits of Eight Legged Freaks
- 2006: EliZe feat. Jay Colin released "Itsy Bitsy Spider" on the album In Control
- 2013: Maziar Bahari's company Off-Centre Productions created an animated version of the song featuring an animated mouse character named "Journo"
- 2021: Lyn Lapid (as "Itsy Bitsy") – single
Contemporary popular cultureEdit
In the Jordan Peele film Us the young girl, Adelaide Wilson, starts whistling "Itsy Bitsy Spider" when she is down in the funhouse, in front of the hall of mirrors. Her doppelgänger, Red, starts whistling the same song, right before they see each other for the first time. All the doppelgängers have been underground waiting for their opportunity to go above ground, or "up the waterspout", and Red is the one that leads them "up the waterspout".
It is one of the main musical themes in the 2006 horror movie Séance.
In the Netflix adaptation of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, during the middle of the episode "Slippery Slope, Part 1", during the scene where the Baudelaires escape the Snow Scouts, Lemony Snicket tells the viewers to refer the scene to the song, knowing they learned it in their childhoods.
In the episode "Quiet Please" (series 8 episode 5A) of Rugrats the Rugrats are read Itsy Bitsy Centipede.
A child singing the rhyme twice can be heard in the intensive care scene in Season Three, Episode One, of Wallander, being played for Police Detective Ann-Britt Hoglund after she was attacked with a sledge hammer.
In one episode of The Nanny ("The Show Must Go On", season 1, episode 12), the youngest child of the Sheffield family, shy "Gracie" (Madeline Zima), musters all her courage and sings the "Spider"-song on stage during a school performance, making those gestures that accompany the song. She gets very much applauded and cuddled by Fran (Fran Drescher) who knows what an achievement that performance was for a shy girl like Gracie.
- "Watervale Notes". The Northern Argus. Clare, South Australia: National Library of Australia. 21 December 1944. p. 7. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
- "BBC – School Radio – Nursery songs and rhymes – Nursery rhymes and songs: Incy wincy spider". Retrieved 2018-01-04.
- "Words to The Itsy Bitsy Spider". www.datsplat.com.
- North 1910.
- North 1910, pp. 279–280.
- Hansen, Marian. "Children's Rhymes Accompanied by Gestures," Vol. 7, No. 1, p. 53
- Vaughan Williams Memorial Library Online search Archived 2013-03-15 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 19 August 2010.
- Biscoe, Patsy (1980), Patsy Biscoe's 50 favourite nursery rhymes, Rigby, ISBN 978-0-7270-1366-8
- on YouTube
- Itsy Bitsy by Lyn Lapid, retrieved 2021-02-01