What is the beginning of this tongue-twister and what precisely is expected by woodchuck here?


Woodchuck is used as an alternative name for groundhogs.

You are watching: If a woodchuck could chuck wood

The etymology the woodchuck says that words is not connected with "wood" and "chucking" and I think the tongue twister touches on this in a humorous means because woodchucks cannot chuck wood actually. (Can they?)

From Etymonline:

woodchuck (n.) 1670s, change (influenced by timber (n.)) of Cree (Algonquian) otchek or Ojibwa otchig, "marten," the name consequently transferred come the groundhog.

How did this word emerge (alteration because of similar-sounding?) and also how did it finish up in this tongue twister?

How is the name moved to the groundhog?


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edited Jun 15 "20 in ~ 7:40

asked Apr 9 "14 at 21:21

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"Woodchuck" is a name for a marmot, Marmota monax, likewise known as a groundhog. The name comes from a aboriginal American (Algonquian or probably Narragansett) wuchak.

Wikipedia says the tongue-twister originates from a 1902 song, however the song is yes, really from 1903. That was yet a rash verse released in a children"s magazine in 1902 or earlier.

Wikipedia: "The Woodchuck Song" (1902?)

Wikipedia says:

The origin of the phrase is a 1902 song, "The Woodchuck Song", written by Robert Howard Davis for Fay Templeton in musical The Runaways.< 7 >< 8 >

The references are:

7. The Tammany times - quantities 20-21 1902- web page 305 ""How lot wood would certainly a woodchuck chuck, If a woodchuck would certainly chuck wood?" the is the beginning of the stop of a tune that Mr. Robert Howard Davis has actually written because that Fay Templeton in “The Runaways.” miss out on Templeton is do the efforts the track ...

8. Hobbies - Volume 78, issues 1-6 - web page 119 otto C. Lightner, Pearl Ann Reeder - 1973 "Mathias estimates Davis as saying he made $20,000 from the sale of "The Woodchuck Song" (this must have actually been from paper music, because that royalties were no paid on record sales in those days) ~ he and also Morse called at Fay Templeton"s residence .."

I looked up the an initial one. The 1902 more than likely via a Google books snippet, yet it cannot be verified. Here"s the relevant component from the much more reliable HathiTrust:


Scrolling ago three pages, we check out the this version (Vol. XXI No. 25) the The Tammany Times was released in October 17th, 1903, no 1902. The book contains countless issues, the an initial of which was 1902, for this reason the mistake in ~ Wikipedia. The post tells us:

The musical production opened up for a operation of indefinite length around the first of critical May, happen the two hundredth performance at the Casino critical Wednesday, ...


"How lot wood would certainly a woodchuck chuck, If a woodchuck would chuck wood?"

That is the beginning of the refrain of a track that Mr. Robert Howard Davis has written for Fay Templeton in “The Runaways.” miss Templeton is do the efforts the song on Casino audience the latter half of this week, and also is do it one of the pronounced song successes of the season.

This argues to me the song is a fairly new addition come the musical.

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It"s additionally mentioned in this October 15th and also this October 24th, 1903 newspapers, and this from October 24th, 1903:

Fay Templeton has actually a brand-new song in "The Runaways" that has caught all Broadway. The was composed for her by Robert H. Davis, and the 2 lines i m sorry are most widely quoted space the following:

"How lot wood would certainly a woodchuck lining if a woodchuck would chuck wood."

Wikipedia"s 2nd reference likewise says 1903 and not 1902:

In 1903 Robert Hobart Davis and Theodore F. Morse gave birth to a "classic" i m sorry was released under the location of "The Woodchuck Song." it is, however, usually described as "How much Wood would certainly a Woodchuck chuck If a Woodchuck ...

Chronicling America: The Indianapolis Journal (1902)

So, is there anything earlier? The earliest I uncovered in the Chronicling America newspaper save on computer is from The Indianapolis Journal, February 09, 1902 (Part two, web page 10, image 20):

The various other day ns picked increase a children"s magazine and also found a nonsense verse which ever because has been making life a burden to me. More than that, I have repeated the verse to countless of mine friends, and they, too, have actually been sent out to the borderland that Insanity. This is the verse:

" "How lot wood would a woodchuck lining If a woodchuck could chuck wood? A woodchuck would certainly chuck all the hardwood he could chuck If a woodchuck might chuck wood. "