'There Was an Old Woman From Nantucket'...

Concerning this Cecil Adams column concering that famous limerick that begins “There was an old man/young man/etc. from Nantucket”, I heard a version that has bugged me lo these many years. On an old rerun of tv’s Maude I saw once, Maude started reciting the limerick. And again, someone stopped her before she could finish. But she did provide interesting insight into yet another version of it. She began, "There was an old woman from Nantucket, Whose bottom was shaped like a bucket…" and that’s all she was allowed. I was sorry she was stopped, because I thought for once and for all I’d learn how the confounded rhyme goes.

Does anyone know how this version goes? I assume it is cute and harmless (i.e., as opposed to coarse and obscene).

And please, please, PLEASE do not post obscene material here or give links to sites that do. Thank you :slight_smile:

I suspect that this, like Norton’s poem on the Honeymooners, was made up for the occasion and doesn’t actually exist “in the wild.”

Are you serious? I always assumed that limericks beginning “There was a [blank-blanky] from Nantucket” were nearly always crafted to rhyme with “s— it” or “f— it” (edited only because of the OP’s request). In fact, the only clean versions I’ve ever seen are the ones in Cecil’s column.

And I’m willing to bet that most other people automatically think the same: limerick + Nantucket = “f— it”. Which is why it’s funny on Maude – reciting the first two lines implies the expletive, without saying it explicitly. As to whether this version exists “in the wild” – there’s probably a lot of variations that are pretty close. In particular, if you Google Nantucket “big as a bucket” you’ll get plenty of, ah, off-color variations.

I’m with zut – it’s clearly meant to signal to the audience that the characters are people who use profanity despite the fact that you can’t show it on TV. Many other examples abound.


I’m still wondering about the limerick that was in an early episode of Star Trek: TNG

I’ve never actually read it, but I have a hunch that one might be able to find that one in one of Asimov’s limerick collections. One must wonder, though, what rhyme is used in the last line.

My brain is a frightening place sometimes.

Horribly dirty suggested completion follows. Jim B., for God’s sake don’t look.

When she blows her top
You’d best get a mop
And a bath for her fiance Enos.


No discussion of dirty limericks can be complete without a mention of Gershon Legman, the anthropologist who devoted his career to them.

He is the author of Rationale of the dirty joke: An analysis of sexual humor and its companion volume, No Laughing Matter: An Analysis of Sexual Humor.

And, for this thread, you must take a look through Limerick.

These are ponderous thick academic tomes, full of psychological jargon. But they contain thousands of the filthiest jokes ever set between hard covers.

I don’t remember what he has to say about the girl from Nantucket, but I’m sure it couldn’t be posted and protect Jim B.. Just out of curiosity, why would you start this thread only to censor it? I guess I’ll have to read Legman’s Love and Death: A Study in Censorship to find out.

I just didn’t want to break the forum rules. Something a little naughty would be alright, I’m sure. Or by all means, if you think it goes a little overboard, user a spoiler, etc.

I’m aware of no rule that prohibits the use of the word fuck in the context of a discussion of language.

And there seems to be no rule at all against any use of the word, since I can find it in four columns started in this forum over the past few months.

You might have checked with a mod first.

There was an old gal from Nantucket,
Whose bottom was shaped like a bucket
She asked, with a frown,
“Where from eider bown?”
“Find a goose, Miss Pail-bottom, and pluck it.”

There was an old man from Nantucket,
Who kept all his cash in a bucket
But his daughter, named Nan,
Ran away with a man,
and as for the bucket, Nantucket.

Bites, that one is included in the column: How does the limerick “There was an old man of Nantucket …” conclude? It’s included in the OP for this thread, although, agreed, it’s a bit subtle.

This forum, after all, is about commenting on Cecil’s Column, so in future, you might want to read the column before posting about it. Saves duplication of effort.

Hey! You might have included my excellent report What’s the origin of “fuckin’ A”?.

I tell you, kids today…[sub]mutter, mutter[/sub]

My bad. This is what happens when you open a bundle of windows with messages and read them in one hit instead of cruising one-by-one. :slight_smile:

Just to emphasis samclem’s point, we have no explicit language restrictions. This website is intended for adults (well, OK, age 14 and over) who have presumably heard such words before.

We do try to maintain some level of politeness and manners outside the forum called BBQ Pit, however. That means that excessive use of naughty words is frowned upon. If you can’t express yourself without using an expletive every three or four words, then you probably don’t belong here. but the occasional use of expletives is nothin’. Nothin’ at all.

Obviously, if you have some religious belief or societal constraint or whatever that makes you uncomfortable being explicit, and you want to use dashes, by all means, do what makes you comfortable. Expect to be laughed at. Or at least, to have people sniggering and pointing.

What? You mean you’re older than I am?

You know what that means, sam?

You’re gonna die soon. :smiley: