Friday, April 1, 2016

Itsy-Bitsy Or Teensy-Weensy

The other day I walked in on my seven year-old daughter saying this to my five year-old son:

"No, it's the "itsy-bitsy" spider, not the "itchy-bitchy" spider."

That was a new one for me. "Itchy-bitchy." It was funny at first. But, the more I think about it, the less I like it. I don't like spiders, so the itsier and bitsier they are, the better. The thought of an "itchy" spider makes my skin crawl. Literally. And I think we can all agree that regular spiders are scary enough without having to deal with a "bitchy" one.

We're all familiar with the song. It's about a plucky little spider who tries to climb a water spout only to get washed away by the rain. But, it's a determined little creature, so once the sun has dried off the water spout, it climbs it again. It's a tale about perseverance and strength of character.

It's also a story that no one can agree on what exactly to call the main character.

I grew up hearing it called the itsy-bitsy spider. "Itsy-bitsy" is a rather silly-sounding expression, but it's fairly common. In fact, a singer named Brian Hyland went to #1 on the charts in 1960 with a song called "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini." (If you do a Google Image search of "itsy bitsy," you'll come across a bizarre mix of cartoon spiders and women in swimsuits.)

There is a large percentage of the population, however, who don't think it should be either "itsy-bitsy" or "itchy-bitchy." These people think the song is about an eensy-weensy spider.

We have a toy with children's songs on it that goes the "eensy-weensy" route. It's also the way The Wife says it. But, it's certainly not the final way to say it.

In doing research for this post (and by "research" I mean spending fifteen minutes with Google and Wikipedia) I learned that there is also a significant percentage of people who call it the incy-wincy spider. I think it's a British thing. These people, of course, are absolutely wrong.

Itsy-bitsy, eensy-weensy, or incy-wincy?

Those are the big three, but there are still more variations. Sometimes my oldest daughter will, with her voice as deep as she can get it, sing it as the hairy-scary spider. Other alternative forms include:
The teenie-weenie spider.
The teensy-weensy spider.
The itty-bitty spider.
The eentsy-weentsy spider.
The eency-weency spider.
The witsy-witsy spider.
And, according to Wikipedia, the blooming, bloody spider. (The people of Wikipedia are weird.)

And yet, with all of these variations I could find no one anywhere who calls it the itchy-bitchy spider, except for my five year-old son. (It's a good thing his older sister is here to set him straight.)

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