Who Was Humpty Dumpty, Where Did the Nursery Rhyme Come From, and What Does It Mean?

The nursery rhyme in which “Humpty Dumpty has a great fall” dates back to 1493 and refers to King Richard III of England.

Richard had a hump on his back and had been dumped by his mount in the thick of battle when he cried, “My kingdom for a horse” before being slain.

The last line, “Couldn’t put Humpty together again,” was originally “Couldn’t put Humpty up again,” meaning back on his horse.

The nursery rhyme has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 13026.

The lyrics are as follows.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.


  1. David Miles says

    As with many old sayings there are more than one explanation.
    A short, large diameter Cannon mounted on the wall of Edinburgh Castle was nicknamed “Humpty Dumpty.” It was destroyed when it fell off the wall.
    This is a more likely origin of the nursery rhyme, but the name might have originated from the humpback king Richard the Third, so both theories could have a part in the origin.
    What is a mystery is how Humpty Dumpty came to be painted as an egg! Lewis Carroll’s illustrator may have the answer to that.

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