One for the money two for the show is the first part of a traditional English children’s rhyme, which is utilized as a playful way to count back before a race or other activities involving kids.
The expression was popularized in pop-culture during the mid-20th century, when music producers and songwriters, including Elvis Presley, started to feature one for the money, two for the show in the lyrics of various songs.
Children in the United States have been using one for the money, two for the show in playful activities supposedly since as early as the late-18th century. The first written evidence for the term dates back, however, to 1820.
A theory suggests that the ”money” part refers to a ”prize” of any kind, and the ”show” part is the ‘experience of a race’.
Aside from being a children’s rhyme, one for the money two for the show became a cultural phenomenon in the 1950s, when various rock & roll bands started to implement it in their songs’ lyrics.
The catchphrase was further popularized by Elvis Presley, who included one for the money, two for the show in his song Blue Suede Shoes, released in 1956.
Throughout the 20th and 21st century, many other music artists featured variants of the phrase in their songs, such as Taylor Swift or Lana Del Rey to name a few.
- Grammarist.com – One for the money, two for the show