Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater

Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater is a nursery rhyme where the lyrics were originally intended to mean something different, but over the years the meaning has been lost and it is now just a fun song to sing with children.

The rhyme was first published in London in 1797, before going on to appear in Boston in 1825 where it gathered lots of interest. A similar version in Scotland in 1868 is considered to be a Scots version of Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater, which went on to become Eeper Weeper, a rhyme about a chimney sweep who kills his wife.

It’s not clear what the original lyrics to this rhyme refer to, but some experts believe it’s to do with infidelity and stopping women from being unfaithful to their husbands. Chastity belts were common during this time, and iron underwear was referred to as a “pumpkin shell” as it ensured that women could not have any relations with anyone other than the person she was married to. 

Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater Lyrics

Peter, Peter pumpkin eater,
Had a wife but couldn’t keep her;
He put her in a pumpkin shell
And there he kept her very well.
Peter, Peter pumpkin eater,
Had another and didn’t love her;
Peter learned to read and spell,
And then he loved her very well.

Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater Music Sheet