View your list of saved words. (You can log in using Facebook.)
Verse customarily told or sung to small children. Though the oral tradition of nursery rhymes is ancient, the largest number date from the 16th, 17th, and (most frequently) 18th centuries. Apparently most rhymes were originally composed for adults, many as popular ballads and songs. The earliest known published collection is Tommy Thumb's (Pretty) Song Book (1744), including Little Tom Tucker, Sing a Song of Sixpence, and Who Killed Cock Robin? The most influential collection was Mother Goose's Melody (1781), including Jack and Jill, Ding Dong Bell, and Hush-a-bye Baby on the Tree Top.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on nursery rhyme, visit Britannica.com.