What Does Finders Keepers Losers Weepers Mean?

Finders Keepers Losers Weepers Meaning

Definition: Those who obtain something simply by discovering it are entitled to keep it.. If someone loses something, the person who finds it can keep it, and all the person who lost it can do is cry about it.

Origin of Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers

Most people know this idiom as a children’s rhyme. However, it is quite old. Sources put the earliest written uses of this general expression at 200 B.C., by the Roman playwright Plautus.

Early English sources appear in the 16th century. In A. Cooke’s 1595 work titled Country Errors in Harley, we see a variation of the phrase appearing as, findings keepings.

By the 1800s, the expression started to appear as we now see it today. D.M. Moir, in 1824, refers to what he calls “the auld Scotch Proverb.”

  • He that finds, keeps, and he that loses seeks.

The idea that a person who finds something that is lost is entitled to keep it is not a new one. It has appeared in many laws throughout the centuries.

This expression first appeared in its modern form in the 1800s. Although it appeared in Britain first, it became common in America shortly afterwards.

Examples of Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers

finders keepers meaningIn the conversation below, two friends are discussing some money that one of them dropped on the floor.

Scott: Tony, I lost about $60 from my wallet. I think I must have dropped it somewhere here in your house, since I know it was in my wallet when I arrived.

Tony: That’s too bad. I haven’t seen it.

Scott: I saw you put some cash in your pocket a few minutes ago. Was it $60?

Tony: Yeah, but I found that. There’s no way you can prove that that was the money you lost.

Scott: You know it must be mine! We are the only two people here at your house!

Tony: So what? Finders keepers; losers weepers.

Scott: That’s ridiculous. I can’t believe you value $60 more than our friendship.

finders keepers definitionTwo co-workers use the expression while discussing their children.

Richard: My daughter found a cat over the weekend. It had a chip implanted in it, so I was able to locate the real owners. However, now my daughter doesn’t want to give it back.

Miranda: Did you explain to her that the original owners probably miss their cat?

Richard: Yeah, but all she would say was finders keepers; losers weepers.

More Examples

This excerpt is from a reader who wrote in for advice about some money she found.

  • I’m a little bitter because my husband and I found the money, and I feel we should be the ones who get to keep it if no one comes forward to claim it. I don’t want to damage the friendship we have with our neighbors, but I feel like we’re losing a bit. What do you think? — FINDERS KEEPERS –Chicago Sun Times

The second example is the headline of an article about things people lost.

  • Losers weepers? Readers share stories of lost property honesty … and greed –Guardian


The phrase finders keepers, losers weepers is a popular children’s chant that means the person who lost an object is out of luck because the finder gets to keep that object.