Famous Limericks for Adults: 
When Only the Most Familiar Will Do!

If you have spent any time with us, you already know that famous limericks for adults date back to the 14th century, they were originally passed down by word of mouth, and they were a source of merriment in drinking establishments in Ireland and other parts of Europe.

Irish Expressions: Famous Irish Limericks.  Image of laughing leprechan, courtesy of Bigstock.

As with many other Irish sayings, limericks were frequently used to shine a humorous light on difficult or uncomfortable topics.  Sometimes they were simply used to showcase the famously irreverent Irish sense of humor.

Simple Famous Limericks for Adults

Many of the older limericks are very simple and straightforward with the subject of the first line basically repeated in the last line. While they aren't necessarily the most creative examples, they are easy to remember (and relatively easy to create!)

The most famous collection of these early limericks is The Book of Nonsense attributed to Edward Lear.

There was an Old Man of Kilkenny
Who never had more than a penny
He spent all that money
In onions and honey
That wayward old man of Kilkenny.

- Anonymous

There was an old person of Down
Whose face was adorned with a frown
When he opened the door, for one minute or more
He alarmed all the people of Down.

- Edward Lear

There was an Old Derry down Derry
Who loved to see little folks merry
So he made them a book
And with laughter they shook
At the fun of that Derry down Derry.

- Edward Lear

There was an old person of Dundalk
Who tried to teach fishes to walk
When they tumbled down dead, he grew weary, and said
“I had better go back to Dundalk!”

- Edward Lear

There was a young man of Killarney
Who was chock full of what is called blarney
He would sit on a stile
And tell lies by the mile
Would this dreadful young man of Killarney.

- Edward Lear

There was an old man with a beard
Who said, "It is just as I feared!"
Two owls and a hen
For larks and a Wren
Have all built their nests in my beard!

- Edward Lear

More Famous  Limericks:  The Next Level

The next level of quality in a limerick (in our humble opinion) is the one where the subject of the first and the last line are DIFFERENT, but related in a clever way, while maintaining the rhyme.  Here are five famous examples of "next level" famous limericks for adults:

There once was a young man named Sean
Who wished from a sly leprechaun
To be surrounded by dough
He wanted it so
In six months he was born as a fawn.

- Anonymous

A man while drinking Light Bud
Crashed his car with a sickening thud
The car that he hit
Had a warlock in it
Now he lives as a frog in the mud.

- Anonymous

There once was a man from Nantucket
Who kept all his cash in a bucket
His daughter named Nan
Ran away with a man
But as for his bucket, Nantucket

- Princeton Tiger

A dozen, a gross and a score
Plus three times the square root of four
Divided by seven
Plus five times eleven
Is nine squared and not a bit more!

- Leigh Mercer

There was a young bell of old Natchez
Whose garments were always in patchez
When comments arose
On the state of her clothes
She replied 'When Ah itchez, Ah scratchez."

-  Ogden Nash

A young Irish man with a microphone reciting a funny limerick to a laughing crowd, surrounded by Irish imagery.

Humor from Sensitive Topics

Finally, our favorite famous limericks for adults combine the core structure of our "Next Level" limericks with a creative approach and an irreverent attitude. Have a look a these:

You’ve conquered the aging disease
That brings lesser men to their knees
You’re a vigorous man
And you’ve proved you still can
Blow your candles with only one wheeze.

- Anonymous

I am sorry to hear, Smiling Jill,
That your birthday’s no longer a thrill
All your friends think you’re great
And should still celebrate-
You’re not old, you’re just over the hill.

- Anonymous

There was a young girl of Norway
Who hung by her toes in a doorway
She said to her beau
Just look at me Joe
I think I've discovered one more way!

- Algernon Charles Swinburne

God's plan made a hopeful beginning
But man spoiled his chances by sinning
We trust that the story
Will end with God's glory
But at present the other side's winning

- Oliver Wendell Holmes

There once was a pirate named Bates
Who was learning to salsa on skates
He fell on his cutlass
Which rendered him nutless
And practically useless on dates.

- Anonymous

Want More Famous Limericks?

You've come to the right place!

We have many, many more examples - and you can gain access to all of them in our section on Irish Limericks.

There you will find hundreds of examples of limericks organized into useful categories, making it simple to find what you are looking for.