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finders keepers(, losers weepers)
A children's rhyme meaning that if someone finds something, they are entitled to keep it (even if it belongs to someone else). Jake yelled "finders keepers" as he dashed toward the house with the sparkling ring he had discovered. A: "Hey, that's my favorite toy!" B: "But I found it out on the playground. Finders keepers, losers weepers!"
A phrase meaning that whoever finds something is entitled to keep it. For example, Someone left a dollar bill in this rented car-finders, keepers. This expression alludes to an ancient Roman law to that effect and has been stated in numerous different ways over the centuries. The modern version, often stated as Finders keepers, losers weepers, dates from the mid-1800s and is no longer a legal precept.
See also: keeper
n. a sad movie, novel, television program, etc. I can’t seem to get enough of these weepers.
Those who obtain something simply by discovering it are entitled to keep it. There are several versions of this expression, all of them referring to the law that a person who finds something, even if it is someone else’s property, may keep it for himself or herself. The earliest references are in writings of the Roman playwright Plautus and date from approximately 200 b.c. Two millennia later, D. M. Moir (Mansie Wauch, 1824) referred to “the auld Scotch proverb of ‘he that finds, keeps, and he that loses seeks.’” Charles Reade also called it a proverb: “Losers seekers, finders keepers” (It Is Never Too Late to Mend, 1856). The modern schoolyard version is “Finders keepers, losers weepers.” Legal implications aside, the poetic rhythm of this expression no doubt helps account for its long life.
See also: keeper