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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Non-Political Compilation Of The Children's Taunt "Liar Liar Pants On Fire"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part I of a two part pancocojams series on the saying "liar liar pants on fire".

This post provides general information about and a possible early source of the taunt "Liar liar pants on fire". This post also compiles multiple non-political versions of this saying that are found on the internet.

Click https://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2017/05/the-big-comfy-couch-liar-liar-video.html for Part II of this series. Part II showcases a YouTube video clip from a 1994 episode entitled "Liar Liar" from the Canadian children's series "The Big Comfy Couch" which features the song "Liar Liar". The lyrics of that song are included in that post along with selected comments from that video's discussion thread.

The content of this post is presented for folkloric and cultural purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.
-snip-
DISCLAIMER:
This isn't meant to be a comprehensive collection of versions of the taunt "Liar liar pants on fire". Please add any other versions that you know in the comment section below along with demographics (such as geographical location and year or decade that you remember saying this version).

Although this compilation doesn't include any political references, I was definitely motivated to compile this collection because of the contemporaneous actions of certain American political figures.

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TWO URBAN DICTIONARY ENTRIES FOR "LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE" [Added May 17, 2017 7:20 AM DST]
Pancocojams Editor's Note:
WARNING: While it's not the case with these two entries, urban dictionary.com pages frequently include language that isn't suitable for children.

From https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Liar%20Liar%20Pants%20On%20Fire
"Liar Liar Pants On Fire
"Liar Liar Pants On Fire" is a playground taunt that is used to indicate each other whenever they think the other is lying.

It refers to the fact "fibbing" is consider naughty, and pants/bottom 'on fire' is an euphemism for spanking.
Child1: Well my dad can pick up a truck!
Child1: Liar Liar Pants On Fire!
#liar#pants#taunt#lying#false#fib

by Roguebfl April 14, 2009

**
"Liar Liar Pants On Fire
In my experience when I was growing up," Liar Liar Pants On Fire" refereed to the ass whipping you would get if your parents caught you lying.You felt like your pants were on fire afterwards

Mom yelled"Liar Liar pants on Fire" when I was caught lying about skipping school."
by Geek Hillbilly, June 06, 2016

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GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE TAUNT "LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE" & INFORMATION ABOUT THIS POST
"Liar Liar pants on fire" is an children's taunt that can be used alone or with other rhyming lines. Perhaps the most commonly added lines in the United States are "Your nose as long as a telephone wire" or "hanging from a telephone wire".

"Liar liar hair on fire" appears to be a (much) later adaptation of the "pants on fire" form of this taunt, and also appears not to be used as often as the "pants on fire" form.

Excerpt #1 given below cites a possible literary source for "Liar liar pants on fire" and documents early published examples of this taunt.

Excerpt #6 also provides examples of "comebacks" (retorts; clap backs) for this taunt.

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COMPILATION OF EXAMPLES OF AND COMMENTS ABOUT "LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE"
This compilation contains versions of the taunt "liar liar pants on fire". Some of these examples are given within comments, sometimes including demographic information.

These examples are given as excerpts from hyperlinked internet sources. With the exception of Excerpt #1, these excerpts are given in no particular order and are numbered for referencing purposes only.

The examples within each internet sources are numbered for referencing purposes only and may duplicate previously given versions. However, only one example of each version is given within the same excerpt.

EXCERPT #1
From http://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/liar_liar_pants_on_fire/ “(Liar, liar) Pants on fire” Posted by Barry Popik, June 02, 2010
"The St. Petersburg (FL) Times originated in 2007 a website, Politifact.com, to check political facts. Statements are judged on a “Truth-O-Meter” with grades of True, Mostly True, Half True, Barely True, False, and Pants on Fire.

“Pants on fire” is said of any lie and is derived from the children’s rhyme: “"You liar, you liar, your pants are on fire, your nose is as long as a telephone wire,” or simply, “Liar, liar, pants on fire!”

“Liar, liar, pants on fire” is cited in print since at least 1933. “Liar, liar, your tongue’s on fire” is cited in print from 1937. One possibly related poem was cited in England in 1841: “Liar, liar, lick spit; Turn about the candlestick. What’s good for liar? Brimstone and fire.”

It is frequently claimed that “Liar, liar, pants on fire” is related to an alleged 1810 poem by William Blake, titled “The Liar,” that begins: “Deceiver, dissembler; Your trousers are alight. From what pole or gallows; Shall they dangle in the night?” There is no record that this poem was written in 1810 by William Blake; the poem appears first on internet blogs in the 2000s. The alleged William Blake poem is featured in a “Liar Liar Pants on Fire” entry in the Uncyclopedia, a Wikipedia parody.

[...]

{Pancocojams Editor: Example numbering for this excerpt begins here.]

1.
Google Books
The early naval ballads of England
By James orchard Halliwell-Phillipps
London: Printed for the Percy Society by C. Richards
1841
Pg. 135:
LIAR, liar, lick spit,
Turn about the candlestick.
What’s good for liar?
Brimstone and fire.

2.
13 August 1933, Sunday World-Herald (Omaha, NE), “Fat Pat to Rassle Savage Because the Public Wants It,” pg. 2-B, col. 7:
DELUGED by letters, swamped by phone calls. and buried under an avalanche of telegrams demanding a match between Pat McGill and Steve Savage (it is so, you liar, liar, pants on fire; there were several people who called up), Jack Lewis of Lakeview park will bow to public demand.

3.
Google Books
Forum and Century
v. 97 - 1937
Pg. 361:
So for all the little niceties of life we must take, “No,” and, “I don’t want it,” “Give me this,” “Get me that,” “Dry up,” and “Liar, liar, your tongue’s on fire,” until we despair of anything plumbing the bottoms of their little hearts.

4.
Google Books
American prefaces: a quarterly of critical and imaginative writing
By University of Iowa
v. 6 - 1941
Pg. 299:
“You liar, you liar, your pants are on fire, your nose is as long as a telephone wire. I don’t believe it.”

5.
Google Books
Let us consider one another
By Josephine Lawrence
New York, NY: Appleton-Century
1945
Pg. ?:
He began to recite slowly, while Leidy stared at him as if hypnotized.
“Liar! Liar!
Your pants are on fire!
Your nose is as long
As a telegraph wire.”

6.
Google Books
New York Folklore Quarterly
By New York Folklore Society
v. 9 - 1945
Pg. 27:
Liar, liar,
Your pants are on fire;
Your nose is as long
As a telephone wire.

7.
Google Books
Borrowed summer: and other stories
By Elizabeth Enright
New York, NY: Rinehart
1946
Pg. 185:
“Liar liar pants on fire,
“Nose as long as a telephone wire!” sang Fenella to the timeless scornful tune of childhood.

8.
Spring 1958, West Virginioa [sic] Folklore, pg. 45:
You liar, you liar,
Your pants are on fire!
Your nose is as long
As a telephone wire.

[...]

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Excerpt #2 [These excerpts are from three pages of this website.]
From https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071003141634AADT7Ox
Remember the rhyme "liar liar " ...... what version did you sing as a kid ?", posted by kirst is back!!, June 01, 2007
1.
"We sang

Liar liar, your bums on fire
Your nose is longer than a telephone wire !!

Or was it just us ?!?"

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2.
"Best Answer: liar, liar yu batty on fire
Yu moute lip lang like telephone wire.

I'm Jamaican...hope you understand that....lol
It's very similar to yours.
-Afi, 2007
-snip-
Pancocojams editor:
"batty" = Jamaican Patois (Patwa) for "bum" (British word for the backside)". http://jamaicanpatwah.com/term/Batty/911#.WRus2dLyvcs
-snip-
"moute" = mouth

"lang" = "long" http://jamaicanpatwah.com/term/lang/1026#.WRutLNLyvcs

**
3.
"Liar, liar, pants on fire, hanging from a telephone wire...

That was a huge insult as a kid...today, it makes no dang sense...LOL...To think I cried myself to sleep over that one once!"
-Mystic Renegade, 2007

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4.
"Liar Liar
Pants on fire
Your nose is longer that a telephone wire

(whatever that means)"
-Selina Kyle, 2007

**
5.
"Liar liar
your heads sticking out of a telephone wire."
-Wide Awake, 2007

**
6.
"Liar, liar
pants on fire
hang you up on a telephone wire"
-Karma Eve, 2007

**
7.
"Liar Liar
Pants on fire!
Nose got caught
on a telephone wire!
Wire broke -
(insert name) choked
and he/she sailed to the devil
in a little row boat!"
-C is me, 2007

****
https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071003141634AADT7Ox&page=2

8.
"liar liar pants on fire, climb up a telophone wire and go up stairs and sit on a tire"
-Pete Wentz some1 ♥'s u , 2007

**
9.
"liar liar pants on fire, knickers are longer than the telephone wire."
-KeaneMiss, 2007

**
10.
"liar liar, pants on fire, can't get over a telephone wire."
- Sir D, 2007 · 10 years ago

**
11. "Liar, liar, pants on fire was all that we used"
-goodgirl2577, 2007

****
https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071003141634AADT7Ox&page=3


12.
"liar liar
pants on fire
put your bottom on the dryer"
-manila_bui, 2007

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Excerpt #3:
From https://www.waywordradio.org/discussion/topics/liar-liar-pants-are-on-fire-nose-is-long-as-a-telephone-wire/
1. & 2. Garry, 2010/09/2010
"When we were kids we used to accuse a friend of lying by chanting,”Liar liar pants are on fire nose is long as a telephone wireLiar liar” I sure we made that up in our neighborhood and then the other day while playing cards with a person from Liberal Texas and she said, “liar, liar, chicken fryer your pants are on fire” something she said from her youth.
My question: How did it get from our neighborhood in Brigham City Utah to Liberal Kansas"

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3. Ron Draney, 2010/09/2010
..."The version we got in the Los Angeles area was “Liar, liar, pants on fire, hanging on a telephone wire”.

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4.Bob Bridges, 2010/09/21 (USA)
"In my neighborhood we said “Liar, liar, your pants are on fire; you can’t get over a telephone wire”, which even then I thought made little sense; would I have been able to get over a telephone wire had I been telling the truth?"

**
5. Garry 2010/09/22
"The Blake poem reference:” It is frequently claimed that “Liar, liar, pants on fire” is related to an alleged 1810 poem by William Blake, titled “The Liar,” that begins: “Deceiver, dissembler; Your trousers are alight. From what pole or gallows; Shall they dangle in the night?” There is no record that this poem was written in 1810 by William Blake; the poem appears first on internet blogs in the 2000s. The alleged William Blake poem is featured in a “Liar Liar Pants on Fire” entry in the Uncyclopedia, a Wikipedia parody.” in fact is a parody, so we still don’t know its origin.

I would think that,”nose as long as a telephone wire” refers to Pinnochio’s nose, but what does “pants on fire” refer to? Or, maybe, it has no referrent at all, but was the only word that the person who created it could find that rhymed with liar.

I think Freud would claim that “Pants on fire” is a sexual reference. Perhaps the object of the person was lying to his girl friend about his sexual interest in her and she calls him out by saying “liar, liar your pants are on fire.” The more I think about it, the more plausible this explanation appears. I don’t think it is the reverse or the saying would be, “liar, liar, your panties are on fire.” "

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Ron Draney 2010/09/22
"I always understood our version (“liar, liar, pants on fire, hanging on a telephone wire”) to indicate a pair of trousers blazing away on an overhead wire with nobody wearing them. The imagery made a strange kind of sense: you were caught lying, so your pants were taken away from you (or a pair stolen from your closet), set alight, and slung out of reach in a place where everyone could see you publicly accused of lying."

****
Excerpt #4:
From http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=81350%231851926 Subject: RE: I'm Rubber . You're Glue: Children's Rhymes

1. Subject: RE: I'm Rubber . You're Glue: Children's Rhymes
From: Azizi
Date: 24 May 05 - 10:22 AM
I wonder if anyone else remembers these rhymes from their childhood or knows if kids are still saying them today {I remember saying these in Atlantic City, New Jersey in the 1950s, but I'm sure they are much older}:

Liar, Liar,
pants on fire."

**
2. Subject: RE: I'm Rubber . You're Glue: Children's Rhymes
From: Barbara
Date: 26 May 05 - 10:11 PM

Growing up in suburban Detroit in the fifties, many of the ones you post are familiar to me. We also said "Liar, liar, pants on fire, nose as long as a telephone wire" and I thought almost every playground had "I see London..." (Always associate that one with the jungle gym, wonder why).
My Grandma said a number of rhymes and riddles as well (I be white, if that be relevant)"...
-snip-
Here's my response to this comment written that same day about citing racial demographics"
"Subject: RE: I'm Rubber . You're Glue: Children's Rhymes
"I mentioned race earlier in this thread because I'm interested in asking the question "Is race a factor in the TYPES of rhymes recited and the WAY the rhymes are performed?" I think the answer may be "It depends" or-better yet- the answer may be "Yes. No. Maybe so."

I am interested in folks sharing rhymes that they knew or know, regardless of their race".

**
3.Subject: RE: I'm Rubber . You're Glue: Children's Rhymes
From: Mo the caller
Date: 08 Sep 05 - 06:13 AM

In the @80s in cheshire UK my childrens friends used
Liar, liar
Pants on fire

[...]*
-snip-
*This version is a duplicate of the one I shared (in #1) of this excerpt. However I'm including it because it cites demographics. The commenter contined with her recollection of other rhymes.

**
4. Subject: RE: I'm Rubber . You're Glue: Children's Rhymes
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 11:18 AM

"It goes, Liar liar, pants on fire
hanging on the telephone wire"

**
5. Subject: RE: I'm Rubber . You're Glue: Children's Rhymes
From: GUEST,Pitheris
Date: 25 Mar 07 - 04:01 PM
"liar, liar pants on fire,
Nose is longer than a telephone wire,
Stick you head in a jelly jar,
Then you wonder where you are."

****
Excerpt #6.
From https://misslucy.wordpress.com/page/8/ Miss Lucy’s Playground Songs
1. Liar Liar
Posted by: ashburnreviews on: September 9, 2008
In: Chants
Source: “American Children’s Folklore (American Folklore Series) (Paperback)” by Simon J. Bronner
"Liar, liar pants on fire, hang them up on a telephone wire"

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Example #6:
WARNING: This site includes profanity.
From https://www.reddit.com/r/todayilearned/comments/18ny0o/til_there_is_a_reply_to_liar_liar_pants_are_on/
1.
"TIL there is a reply to "Liar, Liar, pants are on fire." "I don't care, I don't care, I can buy another pair." (inthe80s.com)"
submitted 2013 by oav

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2. n_reineke257, 2013
"from what I recall as a child, If they mentioned A telephone wire, the response was "if you do, I don't care, I'll pull down your underwear" "

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3. PseudoEngel, 2013
"I thought that was supposed to be: "If you don't. I don't care. I'll pull down your underwear," from the trick-or-treat song."

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4.
TheAmericanDiablo, 2013
"Liar liar pants on fire, hanging from a telephone wire."

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5. Tinkerboots, 2013
"The one I knew was 'liar liar, pants on fire, nose as long as a telephone wire'"
-snip-
I believe that comment #22 in Part II of this series is an example of another comeback to the "liar liar pants on fire" taunt:
[posted by etong2002001 on YouTube's "The Big Comfy Coach"'s "Liar Liar" episode's discussion thread]

"Liar, liar pants on fire...?
I don't care, keep my hair, just go buy another pair!"

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This concludes Part I of this pancocojams series on "liar liar pants on fire"

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

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