DESCRIPTION: "Rub-a-dub-dub, Three men in a tub." They are the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker. They may have gone to the fair, or "jumped out of a rotten potato."
EARLIEST DATE: before 1797 (cf. Baring-Gould-MotherGoose)
KEYWORDS: worker food playparty courting mother
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber)) New Zealand
REFERENCES (6 citations):
GreigDuncan8 1619, "Rub a Dub, Dub" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sutton-Smith-NZ, pp. 109-110, "(The butcher and the baker)" (1 text. lacking the "rub-a-dub" mention and converted into a skipping/counting rhyme about being kissed in the corner)
Opie-Oxford2 460, "Rub-a-dub-dub" (1 text)
Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #133, p. 106, "(Rub-a-dub-dub)"
Jack, p. 186, "Rub-a-Dub-Dub" (1 text)
Dolby, p. 33, "Rub-a-Dub-Dub, Three Men in a Tub" (2 texts)
Rub a Dub Dub
NOTES [82 words]: According to the Opies, in the earliest version, it was not the butcher and all who were in the tub, but three giirls whom butcher, baker, brewer, candlestick-maker, etc. watched -- presumably at one of the less reputable corners of a fair. Jack goes farther and suggests a gay peep show.
Daniel Smith, The Language of London: Cockney Rhyming Slang, Michael O'Mara Books, 2011, p. 55, says that this rhyme was so well-known that it gave rise to the slang expression "rub-a-dub" for "pub." - RBW
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