# Catch a cheater by the toe...January 29, 2007 4:41 PM   Subscribe

How can one cheat and predict the outcome of eenie meenie miny moe?

Given a fixed version of eenie meenie, (e.g. the english version from
wikipedia), a set number of people to choose among, and assuming the person pointed at changes with every word including "a" ,

My verse is:

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe
Catch a baby by the toe
If it squeals let it go,
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.

My set is, from left to right:

Alice
Bert
Charlie
Derek
Eudora

Is it possible to devise a rule of thumb that will predict the final person in advance, e.g. If I start with Derek, I know I'll end up with Eudora. If I start with Alice, I'll end up with Bert.

Can this be boiled down to, for example : If I pick the second person from the right, I'll always end up with the first person on the left.

Yes, this really is the kind of thing that weighs heavily on my mind...
posted by snailer to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

There are, what, 27 syllables? and five people. Which means that you will make five complete rounds and have a remainder of two.

So basically, whoever you start with, the next person in counting order will be "it"
posted by Phire at 4:44 PM on January 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

There are 20 words and 5 people.
Divide 20 by 5 and look at the remainder, which in this case is 0. Then count that many people from the starting person. So in this case, you end with the same person you started with.

This will work for any number of words and any number of people.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 4:45 PM on January 29, 2007

Hold on Phire, you change person per syllable? Cheater!

As I thought, remainders is the way to do this.

Thanks!
posted by snailer at 4:47 PM on January 29, 2007

Like it or not, you are doing modular arithmetic.
posted by vacapinta at 4:56 PM on January 29, 2007

Ahh, sorry, didn't notice the qualifier... Yeah, we always change by the syllable just so there's a more defined rhythm *grins*
posted by Phire at 4:59 PM on January 29, 2007

I've always changed people based on the rhythm, not syllable- so each LINE of the verse gets 4 beats and therefore 4 people.
1) eenie 2) meenie 3) miney 4) moe
5) catch a 6) tiger 7) by the 8) toe
etc...
So I'd say you're counting out 16 people. That being the case if you have 4 people and you start with the person to your left, then you become IT. If you divide 4 into 16 you get 0 meaning YOU.
If you have 5 people, you divide 5 into 16 and get 3 with a remainder of 1. That one is the next person in line who is it, and so on. Make sense?
posted by Thrillhouse at 5:03 PM on January 29, 2007

We always had hollering tigers too. But what about the "my mother says to pick the very best one and you are it" part?
posted by purplefiber at 5:19 PM on January 29, 2007

Oh my Lord what is wrong with you people?

Eenie, meenie, minie, moe:
catch a tiger by the toe.
If he hollers let him go,
You shall not be it.

The person being pointed to is NOT it, repeat until someone is, by default, it.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:45 PM on January 29, 2007

Isn't there a variation where the person selected at the end of a stanza gets to pick a number?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:14 PM on January 29, 2007

I recently watched as a set of eight year old did the standard:

"Eenie, meenie, minie, moe:
catch a tiger by the toe.
If he hollers let him go,
You shall not be it..."

But then added a string of bits, such as:

"And my mother says
to pick the very best one"

There were others, but I can't remember them. The sole reason for these add-ons seemed to be an attempt to extend the game until one received a favorable outcome. One kid added three additional sets of rhymes before he "won".
posted by R. Mutt at 8:00 PM on January 29, 2007

You dirty dirty dishrag you.

(Yes, of course there're ways to predict who it lands on. Count it out. If seven-year-olds can rig this game indefinately, you should be able to too.)
posted by klangklangston at 11:14 PM on January 29, 2007

Eenie, meenie, miney, moe,
Catch a Tiger by the toe,
If he hollers, make him pay,
fifty dollars every day.

My mother told me to pick the very best one and you are (not) it.

(Not) was always optional, but some cheaters got away with using it only to their best advantage,

Also, be aware that this has racist origins.
posted by stovenator at 1:54 AM on January 30, 2007

Eeeny, meeny, miney, moe,
catch a tiger by the toe,
if he hollars, let him go,
my mother told me to pick the very best one
and you are not it.

First three lines follow two-syllables per person, except the last syllable (CATCH-A / TIGER / BY-THE / TOE)

Last syllables are one each. The second to last line can go on for just about forever. This is usually where kids will fudge it and put the odds in their favor.

Remember the NOT IT part.

And remember the 'hollarin' is because of slavery.

And remember that kids don't give a shit about the origins of nuthin'.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:42 AM on January 30, 2007

my choldhood version went even further:
Eenie, meenie, miney, moe,
Catch a Tiger by the toe,
If he hollers, make him pay,
fifty dollars every day.

My mother told me to pick the very best one and you are not it

you dirty old dish rag you
posted by Sprocket at 10:09 AM on January 30, 2007

There's also a related problem, called the Josephus Problem , which you might be amused by.
posted by leahwrenn at 10:17 AM on January 30, 2007

And remember the 'hollarin' is because of slavery.

I won't mention what my grandfather used to say in place of "tiger" until his children made him stop.
posted by staggernation at 2:57 PM on January 30, 2007

On further examination, what stovenator and Eugene Volokh said.
posted by staggernation at 2:59 PM on January 30, 2007

« Older Biking Across America?   |   CASE RACE Newer »