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Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire Origin

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The saying liar, liar pants on fire is part of a longer children’s rhyme that’s been around since 1841 or so. There are several different versions of what comes after the line liar, liar, pants on fire, such as “Hanging by a telephone wire / While you’re there, cut your hair / And stick it down your underwear.” A listener in Indianapolis, Indiana, reports finding other taglines, such as “Stick your head in boiling water,” and the milder “Wash your face in dirty water.” This is part of a complete episode.

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  • My info is that the children’s ditty “Liar, Liar, pants on fire, hanging from a telephone wire.” came from paraphrasing the poem by William Blake titled “The Liar.” The first and last stanza of “The Liar” is clearly the source text, with the line about the “telephone wire” answering Blake’s question about what pole or gallows the trousers are hanging from.

    “Deceiver, dissembler
    Your trousers are alight
    From what pole or gallows
    Do they dangle in the night?”

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