What Does One for the Money, Two for the Show Mean?

One for the Money, Two for the Show Meaning

Definition: 1, 2, 3, 4, go!

Origin of One for the Money, Two for the Show

This expression comes from a children’s rhyme. The rhyme has existed since the 1800s. Children use it to count before starting a race or other activity. The full rhyme is below.

One for the money

Two for the show

Three to get ready

And four to go

Several popular musicians, including Elvis Presley, have used it in their songs, so it has become a popular catchphrase.

Examples of One for the Money, Two for the Show

elvis presley one for the money two for the showIn the dialogue below, two friends are at a restaurant ordering something the woman has never tried before.

Tina: So why did you want to take me here?

Keanu: I wanted you to try something new. You said you’re bored of all the food you normally eat.

Tina: Okay. What’s good here?

Keanu: I already ordered you the live octopus.

Tina: Sorry. I thought I heard you say live octopus. What did you really say?

Keanu: I did say live octopus. You told me you were open to eating anything. Look, here it is. Come on. Try it! Or were you exaggerating when you said you’d eat anything?

Tina: Um, no. No, I wasn’t exaggerating. I can do it. Easy. Just give me a minute. Okay. Okay. Here I go. One for the money…two for the show…three to get ready…and four to go!

(Tina picks up the octopus, puts it near her mouth, then puts it back down.)

Tina: Nope! Sorry. I can’t do it. I was exaggerating. Get me some salt water. I’m going to keep this little guy as a pet.

one for the money and two for the show In this example, one friend is encouraging another before a big speech.

Jonah: I don’t think I can go give this speech.

Tatiana: Of course you can! Everyone is out there ready for you. Go on and do it.

Jonah: I’m nervous.

Tatiana: Well, I’ll count, and you just go out on stage when I say go. Don’t think about it.

Jonah: Okay, fine.

Tatiana: One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to go. Go!

Jonah: I’m going!

More Examples

This excerpt uses the expression to talk about a baseball player returning to the sport after an injury.

  • One for the money. Two for the show. Three to get ready and four to go. Michael Brantley may not recognize that old childhood rhyme, but it applies to him and opening day. –Cleveland

The second example is about pop stars who were boycotting performing at a president’s inauguration. The author of the article believes they would have performed if they received more money.

  • Donald Trump’s inauguration concert mistake was a failure to understand the first rule of show business: it’s one for the money and two for the show.” –Irish Times


The phrase one for the money, two for the show is part of a children’s rhyme that people sometimes reference when counting to prepare to start something.