Daffy-down-dilly made up all of our childhood. This short and sweet poem talks about a “daddy down dilly” that has come to the town! She wears a pretty yellow petticoat under a gorgeous green gown. Remember it now?
And while Daffy-down-dilly means a daffodil flower, the poet here draws a comparison between the maiden’s dress and the color of the flower. This song sounds fresh, right? But can you believe that song originated in 1843? Yes, its first mention dates back to the 19th century.
Curious to learn more? Read on!
Can you recite the song word to word? If not, then check out its lyrics!
Has come to town
With a yellow petticoat
And a pretty green gown.
Want a pretty printable for your children’s room or want a printed version to teach them? Don’t worry. We have got you! Grab your copy here.
Watch the following video to catch the correct pronunciation and tune to this nursery rhyme.
Origins and history
The first instance Daffy-down-dilly was ever mentioned was in a novel by the American author Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1843. Titled “Little Daffy-down-dilly,” the book was a collection of short stories, and the word “Daffy-down-dilly” was used to personify a character’s beautiful and agreeable personality. Similar to a daffodil, Daffy-down-dilly was a pleasant and happy child.
Geographically it is speculated that the song could originate from the United States since Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Massachusetts.
While it is unknown when Daffy-down-dilly was first sung or who the author might be, its tweaked version appears in The Little Mother Goose (1912). Illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith, the poem goes like this:
Daffy-down-dilly has come up to town
In a fine petticoat and a green gown.
The following illustration was created by Richardson from Mother Goose, The Original Volland Edition (1915). It rightfully captures the color and shape of the girl’s gown to resemble a ripe daffodil.
The second illustration has been taken from Kate Greenaway’s Mother Goose (1881). It reflects the change of the gown’s color, which has gone from yellow, in the initial version, to green in the latest one.
Originating from an old song of the same name, Daffy-down-dilly is an innuendo for the coming of spring. The spring brings with it an array of flowers, including bright yellow daffodils with pleasant green stems.
In the slang version, Daffy-down-dilly means a yellow daffodil flower that resembles a trumpet in shape with a bonnet on top. The flowers grow in the wild and are found all across North America and Europe.