Nursery Rhyme Origins: Humpty Dumpty


The popular nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty does not actually state that the character is an egg. It was first published in 1810 in Gammer Gurton’s Garlandas:

Humpty Dumpty sate on a wall,
Humpti Dumpti had a great fall;
Threescore men and threescore more,
Cannot place Humpty dumpty as he was before.

The most current version of the rhyme reads:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary the term “humpty dumpty” referred to a drink of brandy boiled with ale in the seventeenth century. It may have also referred to the eighteenth-century  slang “humpty dumpty” meaning a short and clumsy person.


There are various other theories on the origin of Humpty Dumpty including: that Humpty Dumpty was a “tortoise” siege engine, an armored frame, used unsuccessfully during the Siege of Gloucester in the English Civil War; and that Humpty Dumpty was a huge cannon placed on the city wall of Colchester in the siege of 1648. (wiki)