Rings on her fingers, bells on her toes

Peter A. McGraw pmcgraw at LINFIELD.EDU
Mon Feb 21 17:37:49 UTC 2000

So far nobody has mentioned the context I have always taken for granted for
this phrase.  My mother and her side of the family have always said, "I'll
be there with bells on," meaning "I'll be there FOR SURE."  The context is
usually some important event, like a graduation, wedding, etc.  I never
connected it with the nursery rhyme verse at all, since I don't see
anything in the verse that would relate to this meaning.  Surely this usage
can't be restricted to my family?!

Peter Mc.

--On Mon, Feb 21, 2000 5:11 AM -0500 Bruce Dykes <bkd at GRAPHNET.COM> wrote:

>>    Someone asked me about this.  Here goes.
>>    The RHHDAS has "with bells on" from 1899.  The phrase is placed in no
>> context whatsoever.

                               Peter A. McGraw
                   Linfield College   *   McMinnville, OR
                            pmcgraw at linfield.edu

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