The butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker

Meaning

What does The butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker mean?

The butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker is used to refer to various other people together, roughly meaning ‘anyone at all’, or to people of various trades.

An example is the tweet of dmstingley posted on July 18:

“The Uvalde report seems to blame the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, anybody and everybody but the dudes in uniforms who failed to protect and serve.”

Origin

What's the origin of The butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker?

The phrase originates from a 14th-century rhyme, first referring to maids in a tub that used to be an attraction at fairs.

“Hey! rub-a-dub, ho! rub-a-dub, three maids in a tub,

And who do you think were there?

The butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker,

And all of them gone to the fair

By the 19th century, the rhyme was changed into a nursery rhyme, titled Rub a Dub Dub and appeared in the book Second Volume of Christmas Box published in 1798 representing the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker as tradesmen who made Christmas more beautiful.

Spread & Usage

How did The butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker spread?

The earliest occurrence of the phrase in print can be found in the Morning Post (London) of May 2, 1848.

The phrase reached the top in its popularity by the end of the 19th century, it is still widespread and commonly used, even in publications referring to tradesmen and services.

Also, “the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker” was given as a title of half a dozen books, as well as it is the episode title of The Boys in the second season.

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