Can anyone explain what the children's song "Zehn kleine Zappelfinger" is about?

Zehn kleine Zappelfinger
zappeln hin und her.
Zehn kleine Zappelfinger
finden´s gar nicht schwer.
Zehn kleine Zappelfinger
zappeln auf und nieder.
Zehn kleine Zappelfinger
tun das immer wieder.
Zehn kleine Zappelfinger
zappeln ringsherum.
Zehn kleine Zappelfinger
toben rum wie dumm.
Zehn kleine Zappelfinger
spielen jetzt versteck.
Zehn kleine Zappelfinger
sind auf einmal weg.
Zehn kleine Zappelfinger
rufen laut Hurra.
Zehn kleine Zappelfinger
sind auf einmal da.

From what I've been able to gather on the internet, it's a song that can be accompanied by a game with small children ("Mit den zehn Fingern spielen, was der Text aussagt. Kann man auch mit Kindern in der Kindergruppe spielen, z.B. zehn (oder acht oder drei) kleine Zappelkinder.") But what exactly does the verb "zappeln" mean and is there any reasonable English translation of "Zappelfinger"? I looked up "zappeln" at my usual internet dictionary (Beolingus) and got "flounce, flounder, fidget" but that only helped a little. "Fidget fingers"?

  • 2
    See this related question for some background on "zappeln": german.stackexchange.com/questions/3034/…
    – Takkat
    May 23 '13 at 6:23
  • Zappeln means to move your body or a part of your body to and fro. The definition of flounce and flounder are completely different . Fidget would fit in another context (boring, nervous). In this case I'd go with wiggle as teylyn suggests, or wriggle.
    – Em1
    May 23 '13 at 7:21

wiggle your fingers is the English term that comes to mind. So, maybe ten little wiggle fingers is an appropriate translation.


I know the song as "Zehn kleine Zappelmänner".

I would translate it as "Ten flapping finger/men..."

You may check some videos in Youtube to get the idea behind the song:


Ten little restless men, [restless they go up And down / they do it again And again. They do it all around / They are not dumb/ they crawl to hide / Suddenly they went away]

Actually it is about the ten fingers

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.