General: How many magpies indicate sorrow?


MagpieEarlier today, somebody searched for “how many magpies indicate sorrow” on my blog. I’ve got no idea how they found this site to perform the search – but if you are still around Mr (or Mrs) Random Searcher – here’s your answer..

According to the popular rhyme, 1 magpie indicates sorrow:

One for sorrow, Two for joy
Three for a girl, Four for a boy
Five for silver, Six for gold
Seven for a secret never to be told.

But there’s also:
One for sorrow, two for mirth,
Three for a wedding, four for a birth,
Five for silver, six for gold,
Seven for a secret not to be told.
Eight for heaven, nine for hell,
And ten for the devil’s own sel’.

and from Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable:
One’s sorrow, two’s mirth,
Three’s a wedding, four’s a birth,
Five’s a christening, six a dearth,
Seven’s heaven, eight is hell,
And nine’s the devil his old self.


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