This bright little insect (also called lady-cow or Bishop Barnaby) is said to bring luck if it alights on someone, and should never be harmed. Children encourage it to fly away with some variant of the rhyme:
   Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home,
   Your house is on fire, and your children all gone,
   Tell me when your wedding be:
   If it be tomorrow day,
   Take your wings and fly away.
   This can also be a divination, as in 19th-century Shropshire:
   Lady-cow, lady-cow, fly away, flee! Tell me which way my wedding's to be, Uphill, or downhill, or towards the brown Clee!
(Burne, 1883: 237)
   A ladybird affected the whole course of modern English folklore studies by settling on Peter 'Opie's finger one day in 1944, causing him to quote this rhyme and rouse his wife Iona's curiosity; within a few days they had started the exploration of nursery-lore and child-lore which became their life's work.
   ■ Opie and Opie, 1951: 263-4; Opie and Tatem, 1989: 326.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • ladybird — ► NOUN ▪ a small beetle with a domed back, typically red or yellow with black spots …   English terms dictionary

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  • ladybird — UK [ˈleɪdɪˌbɜː(r)d] / US [ˈleɪdɪˌbɜrd] noun [countable] Word forms ladybird : singular ladybird plural ladybirds British a small insect that has a round red or yellow body with small black spots on it …   English dictionary

  • ladybird — la·dy·bird (lāʹdē bûrd ) n. See ladybug. * * * the name of a series of small books started in 1940, which are designed to help children to learn to read. The books have a picture of a ladybird (= a round, red insect with black spots) on the front …   Universalium

  • ladybird — [[t]le͟ɪdibɜː(r)d[/t]] ladybirds N COUNT A ladybird is a small round beetle that is red with black spots. [BRIT] (in AM, use ladybug) …   English dictionary

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