The Full Wiki

Tongue-twister: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A tongue-twister is a phrase that is designed to be difficult to articulate properly. Tongue-twisters may rely on similar but distinct phonemes (e.g., s [s] and sh [ʃ]), unfamiliar constructs in loanwords, or other features of a language.

The hardest tongue-twister in the English language (according to Guinness World Records) is "The sixth sick sheikh's sixth sheep's sick." William Poundstone claims that the hardest English tongue twister is "The seething sea ceaseth and thus the seething sea sufficeth us."[1]



Many tongue-twisters use a combination of alliteration and rhyme. They have two or three sequences of sounds, then the same sequences of sounds with some sounds exchanged. For example, She sells sea shells on the sea shore. The shells that she sells are sea shells I'm sure. or A black bug bit a big black bear, made a big black bear bleed blood.

Another example is Billy blew a blue bubble while bouncing on a bongo.

Another example, Betty Botter (About this sound listen ):

Betty Botter bought a bit of butter
The butter Betty Botter bought was a bit bitter
And made her batter bitter.
But a bit of better butter makes better batter.
So Betty Botter bought a bit of better butter
Making Betty Botter's bitter batter better.

Two well-known such tongue-twisters are "Peter Piper":

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
How many pickled peppers did Peter Piper pick?

But if Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Were they pickled when he picked them from the vine?
Or was Peter Piper pickled when he picked the pickled peppers
Peppers picked from the pickled pepper vine?

and "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck?":

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck
if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
He would chuck, he would, as much wood as he could,
and chuck as much wood as a woodchuck would chuck
if a woodchuck could chuck wood.

This one won grand prize in a contest in Games Magazine in 1979[citation needed]: (Contest announced in issue of November/December 1979; results announced in issue of March/April 1980).

Shep Schwab shopped at Scott's Schnapps shop;
One shot of Scott's Schnapps stopped Schwab's watch.

Some tongue-twisters are short words or phrases, which become tongue-twisters when repeated rapidly (often expressed as "Say this five (or three, ten, etc.) times fast!"). Examples include toy boat, Peggy Babcock, Irish wristwatch, and Red Leather, Yellow Leather. Big whip is another that is difficult for some people to say quickly, due to the lip movement required between the "g" and "wh" sounds.

Loanwords and other language elements

Certain loanwords contain unfamiliar constructs, which are used in tongue-twisters. For example, Finnish strutsin perhe (the family of an ostrich) has the consonant cluster "str", whereas such consonant clusters do not occur in native Finnish words. Repeated, this might be pronounced as "strutsin perse" ("ostrich's arse").

Other features of language can make for tongue-twisters; for instance, the Czech strč prst skrz krk (stick a finger through the throat) relies on the absence of vowels, although syllabic r is a normal Czech sound.

Something that might be regarded as a type of tongue-twister is a shibboleth, that is, a phrase in a language that is difficult for someone who is not a native speaker of that language to say.[citation needed] An example is Georgian baq'aq'i ts'q'alshi q'iq'inebs ("a frog croaks in the water"), in which "q" is a sort of gulping sound.


There are tongue twisters in every language. One Japanese twister (attempted by child genius Chiyo Mihama in the Anime series Azumanga Daioh) is Basu Gasu Bakuhatsu, Busu Basu Gaido, meaning "Bus Gas Explosion, Ugly Bus Guide." Another (as heard on Please Come Home... Mr. Bulbous) is Tonari No Kyaku Wa Yoku Kaki Kuu Kyaku Da, meaning "The customer next to me eats a lot of persimmons (or oysters)". An example in Polish is "Król Karol kupił królowej Karolinie korale koloru koralowego" (King Carl bought Queen Caroline coral-colored corals). A famous German one is "Fischers Fritz fischt frische Fische. Frische Fische fischt Fischers Fritz" (Fisherman Fritz fishes fresh fish, fresh fish fishes fisherman Fritz).

The sign language equivalent of a tongue twister is called a finger fumbler. According to Susan Fischer, the phrase Good blood, bad blood is a tongue-twister in English as well as a finger-fumbler in ASL.[2]


The children's book Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss consists almost entirely of densely rhyming tongue-twisters.

See also


External links

Simple English

A tongue-twister is a sentence that is hard to say. They often use alliteration and homophones.


  • How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? A woodchuck would chuck all the wood he could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.
  • How much straw could a strawberry bury if a strawberry could bury straw.
  • She slit a sheet, a sheet she slit.
  • Subterranean seismograph stuck in the stratosphere.
  • She sells sea-shells on the sea-shore. The shells she sells are sea-shells, I'm sure.
  • The sixth sheik's sixth sheep's sick.
  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. Why did Peter Piper pick a peck of pickled peppers? If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
  • Mr. See owned a saw. And Mr. Saw owned a seesaw. Someday See's saw sawed Saw's seesaw. So Saw sore.
  • If you understand, say understand, If you don't understand, say don't understand, but If you understand and say don't understand then how can I understand that you understand. Understand?

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address