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Eeny, meeny, miny, mo

Eeny, meeny, miny, mo is the first line of a counting rhyme, used by children to decide who goes first in a game or who is the team captain or who is “it” in a game of tag. Eeny, meeny, miny, mo and other counting rhymes were passed from child to child in oral tradition, the rhymes were not written down until the mid-1800s. As may be expected from oral traditions perpetuated through children, there are large variances in these counting rhymes. The most well-known is now: Eeny, meeny, miny, mo/catch a tiger by his toe/if he hollers let him go/eeny meeny miny mo. (In the American version the tiger hollers, in the British version the tiger screams.) While the origins of eeny, meeny, miny, mo is lost in the mists of history, most linguists ascribe a link to the British system of counting, the Angl-Cymric Score. This is a set of numerals used in particular, ritualistic purposes such as counting knitting stitches or shepherds counting their sheep. Such an Irish counting score is eina, mina, pera, peppera, pinn, and American counting score is een, teen, tether, fether, fip.

Variant spellings of eeny, meeny, miny, mo are eenie, meenie, miney, moe, or eany, meany, miney, mo, and many others.


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Examples

Should those who don’t pay any attention to politics go into the voting booth and go “eeny-meeny-miny-mo” to decide where to put their X? (Regina Leader-Post)

It helps that the band’s back together after DeAndre Jordan’s eenie-meenie-miney-moe free agency and the deeper bench will have more to work with than just some string and a frayed piece. (The Lost Angeles Times)

And of course, you will need to carve in some time — at least enough for ‘Eeny, meeny, miny, moe’ — to figure out who to vote for in the federal election. (The Calgary Herald)

 

 

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