Meaning Behind the Nursery Rhyme: “Skinnamarink”

The popular nursery rhyme, “Skinnamarink” or “Skidamarink,” is known by a few different names, but has touched the hearts of many. The tune dates back to the early 20th century when it debuted in a Broadway musical and has turned into one of the most famous nursery rhymes of all time. Below, we look at the story behind “Skinnamarink.”

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Meaning Behind the Song

The song’s meaning is spelled out in its signature lyrics, skiddy-mer-rink-a-dink-a-boomp / Skiddy-mer-rink-a-doo / Means I love you. Its origins date back to 1910 when it was written by Broadway lyricist Felix F. Feist and composer Al Piantadosi for the musical The Echo. The original nautical-themed lyrics speak of the fictional Boola Boola Isle where mermaids “chant” and are overseen by a big chief crocodile. Skiddy-mer-rink-a-dink-a-boomp / Skiddy-mer-rink-a-doo / Means I love you/ Skiddy-mer-rink-a-dink-a-boomp / Skiddy-mer-rink-a-doo / Means I’ll be true, they sing in the chorus. The more commonly known version tells a much different tale, eliminating many of the verses and focusing mainly on the theme of love.

Skidamarink a-dink a-dink
Skidamarink a-doo
I love you

I love you in the morning
And in the afternoon
I love you in the evening
And underneath the moon

Sharon, Lois & Bram

The song rose to fame on the popular Canadian children’s program, The Elephant Show, where music group, Sharon, Lois & Bram, sang it at the end of each episode. It first appeared on Sharon, Lois & Bram’s debut 1978 album, One Elephant, Deux Éléphants, before becoming the signature song when The Elephant Show premiered in 1989.

According to The Globe and Mail, group member Lois Lilienstein was on a trip in Chicago to ask family to help fund One Elephant when she discovered “Skidamarink” through her cousin’s daughter, who heard the catchy rhyme at camp. Since the band didn’t know where the song originated, they cited it as “traditional.”

[RELATED: Relive the Music of Sharon, Lois, and Bram with the Trio’s New Live LP]

“We have no idea where it came from,” Sharon Hampson recalled in a 2015 interview with The Globe and Mail. “We hoped to find out, and we tried over time, but we have no idea. We’ve never done anything where we didn’t end with ‘Skinnamarink.‘ So it was a real find.”

Skinnamarink TV

“Skinnamarink” became synonymous with Sharon, Lois & Bram and lent itself as the title of their follow-up show, Skinnamarink TV, that aired in the U.S. and Canada for two seasons from 1997 to 1999. “It’s out there in the ether,” Hampson said. “Everyone knows it, but [a lot of] people don’t know that it came from us. … And it doesn’t matter as long as they’re singing it.”

Sesame Street and The Wiggles are other popular children’s shows where “Skinnamarink” has been performed. The song is also the title of the 2022 Canadian horror movie, Skinamarink.

Photo by Sheridan Libraries/Levy/Gado/Getty Images

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