pull the other one, it's got bells on - Origins?

I’ve been looking for the origins of this phrase. Orginally, I thought it was a Terry Pratchett invention (it sounds far to Ankh-Morporkian), but upon googling I find it’s rather much more widespread than that, and appears to pre-date Pratchett.

I can’t, for the life of me, find the origins of this phrase, however. Does anyone have any idea?

Definition only.
“pull the other one (it’s got bells on)! Exclam. You are joking aren’t you? Used to express a suspicion that one is being tricked or teased. E.g.“I drove round the corner and there was a pink elephant in the middle of the road.” “Yeah sure, pull the other one!” {Informal}”
copied from: Dictionary of Slang
No source of origins, lots of posts in regards to.
You have to assume it is of British origin but when is anybodys guess.
Lost in the mists of time?

I asked this same question some years ago, and got some good answers. But I can’t find that thread via search.

Basically the phrase in a more pure form is “pull the other leg, it’s got bells on”. The meaning is the person saying it thinks they’re having their leg pulled, or being thought of as a fool. The ‘fool’ aspect is emphasized by saying their other leg has bells on it, part of a jester’s traditional costume.

Michael Quinion, of World Wide Words , addressed this on the Linguist List.

“It (pull the other one, etc) is indeed a well-known phrase in Britain, regarded as the
full, or canonical, form of the expression. It brings to mind
the court jester, complete with cap and bells. Nigel Rees, in
his Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins, says it is known from
the 1960s, no doubt in reference to the earliest citations in
the OED. Partridge’s Dictionary of Catch Phrases quotes Frank
Shaw as saying it was known in the 1920s, but provides no firm

I can avouch from personal experience that it was current in England in the 60s.

or the other leg with bells on is a person’s penis with testicles…

If your testicles jingle when someone pulls your penis, then I suggest medical intervention.

No, that’s “pull the other one, it has a bell-end”

Pull the other one, it’s Belinda Carlisle.

Sir Pterry used the special variation

Pull one of the other ones, it has got bells on it

because the speaker is Gaspode, a dog = more than two legs. :slight_smile:

(When William de Worde meets Gaspode as his informant without knowing he’s talking to a dog, this variant makes him think Gaspode must be a non-native speaker of Morpokian…)

I’m glad the jester angle was cleared up. I had always suspected it had something to do with Morris dancers.

Is there any earlier reference to the complete version than 2016?

I’ve always heard, and often said, “I’ll be there with bells on,” meaning you betcha I’m going, or you can’t miss me. Is that derivative? Or am I the only one who says that? For good measure, am I saying something which other people supposedly say “I’ll be there with my hair in a braid?”

I’ve never heard that one, but “With knobs on” is a common English phrase meaning “even more so”

“I’ll be there with bells on,” according to my elementary school teachers, was a whole different story. We were taught about pioneer times in Indiana. Part of the lore, along with latch-strings and blab school, was the idea that draft horses were festooned with bells. If something broke on the wagon, and they needed help from somebody to fix it, the one who helped was thanked with a gift of some of the horse bells. If you arrived without any bells, it meant the wagon had broken down on the way.

A couple years ago, I saw the judging of draft horse teams at the state fair. Most of the horses wore the traditional bells as they paraded around the State Fair Colosseum floor.