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Little Miss Muffet 
Little Miss Muffet 1 - WW Denslow - Project Gutenberg etext 18546.jpg
William Wallace Denslow's illustrations for one version of the rhyme, from a 1901 edition of Mother Goose
Publication date 1805

"Little Miss Muffet" is an English nursery rhyme of uncertain origin, first recorded in 1805. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 20605.


The rhyme first appeared in print in Songs for the Nursery (1805), and there have been many variants since. The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes gives the following:

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
There came a big spider,
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.

Older versions sometimes use "of" rather than "her" in line 3, and refer to a "little spider" as in this example dating between 1837 and 1845:

Little Miss Muffet
She sat on a tuffet,
Eating of curds and whey;
There came a little spider,
Who sat down beside her,
And frighten'd Miss Muffet away.

There are several early-published versions with significant variations including "Little Mary Ester sat upon a tester" (1812) and "Little Miss Mopsey, Sat in the shopsey" (1842). Other collected variants have included "Little Miss Muffet, sat on a toffet" (1830s?) and "Little Miss Muffet, sat on a buffet" (1840s?). In a later United States example, "whey" was replaced with "pie".


Although the word "tuffet" is now sometimes used to mean a type of low seat, the word in the rhyme probably refers to a grassy hillock, small knoll or mound (a variant spelling of an obsolete and rare meaning of "tuft"). The Oxford English Dictionary calls the "hassock or footstool" meaning "doubtful", and "perhaps due to misunderstanding of the nursery rhyme".


The origins of the rhyme are unclear. Although no record has been found before 1805, it is likely to be considerably older given its similarity to other rhymes such as "Little Polly Flinders", "Little Poll Parrot", "Little Tommy Tacket", "Little General Monk" and "Little Jack Horner" (the last known to have been current at least as early as 1720).

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