“Twist a tongue, and tongue a twist how many twists can a tongue twister twist around the twisting tongue.”― Jazz Feylynn
Who doesn’t remember having a favorite tongue twister as a kid? For me, it was the “how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.”
Even to this day I can say it at a breakneck pace, much to the amusement of anyone around me at the time.
But one thing I never realized as a child was the importance of tongue twisters. I thought they were just a fun little trick meant to kill some time after a bunch of practice — kind of like a magic trick.
But it turns out people all around the world practice tongue twisters in English, even as adults! Why? Because it’s a great tool for learning to pronounce and enunciate difficult sounds in the English language!
And what better way to learn a language than when it’s something fun?
This article explores a bit of the history of tongue twisters, how to make your own, and of course, a list of 129 pre-existing tongue twisters at the end.
Let’s jump in!
What is a tongue twister?
- Peter Piper picked a pale of peppers.
- How much wood could a woodchuck chuck?
- She sells seashells by the seashore.
And while some tongue twisters are longer, the short ones are often meant to be repeated multiple times in a row.
- Toy boat
- Top cop
- Edward edited it
They also usually consist of a combination of alliteration and similar-sounding consonants.
Alliteration is the repetition of initial sounds in a series of words.
Think of sentences like:
- Amy ate apples
- Greg gorged gleefully
- Zack’s zany zoo
Whereas similar-sounding consonants are more in the domain of how we sound out a word. The easiest way to recognize a consonant is that they’re the opposite of a vowel!
Examples of constants:
- Using your lips to pronounce “p” and “b”
- Using the front of your tongue to pronounce “t” and “d”
- Using the back of the tongue to pronounce “k” and “g”
- Using your throat to pronounce “h”
- Using forced air to pronounce “f” and “v” and “s”
- Using your nasal cavity to pronounce “m” and “n” (Try plugging your nose and humming those letters!)
Combine the two literary devices, throw in some humor and/or a story, and you have yourself a brand new tongue twister!
Fun facts about tongue twisters
What’s the hardest tongue twister in the world?
Well, back in 1974, the Guinness World Records listed the most difficult tongue twister in the English language for the last time. Their final winner?
The sixth sick sheikh’s sixth sheep’s sick.
But according to the author and columnist William Poundstone, after testing numerous English speakers, he claimed the most difficult tongue twister in the world is:
The seething sea ceaseth and thus the seething sea sufficeth us.
Did you know the famous “She sells seashells” tongue twister was made into a song?
While the original phrase was created as a dictation exercise in 1850, the twister was turned into lyrics in a famous song in 19908, by British songwriter Terry Sullivan and musician Harry Gifford.
There’s also a National Tongue Twister Day, celebrated annually on November 8! People can be pretty serious about seemingly silly things, can’t they?
Did you want to create your own tongue twisters? It’s not too hard. Plus, it’s fun! That’s why I created a simple 7-step process to make your own.
129 Tongue Twisters in Alphabetical Order
Here’s a huge list of tongue twisters to play with, teach with, or just practice for yourself! I listed them in alphabetic order for ease of reading. Also, if one of the tongue twisters is short, like one to three words, the idea is to repeat them multiple times over and over.
- A big black bear sat on a big black rug.
- A flea and a fly flew up in a flue.
- A happy hippo hopped and hiccupped.
- A pessimistic pest exists amidst us.
- A proper copper coffee pot.
- A really leery Larry rolls readily to the road.
- A shapeless sash sags slowly.
- A skunk sat on a stump and thunk the stump stunk, but the stump thunk the skunk stunk.
- A snake sneaks to seek a snack.
- A synonym for cinnamon is a cinnamon synonym.
- An ape hates grape cakes.
- Any noise annoys an oyster but a noisy noise annoys an oyster more.
- Bake big batches of bitter brown bread.
- Betty Botter bought some butter but, said she, the butter’s bitter. If I put it in my batter, it will make my batter bitter. But a bit of better butter will make my bitter batter better. So she So ‘t was better Betty Botter bought some better butter.put it in her bitter batter, made her bitter batter better.
- Betty’s big bunny bobbled by the blueberry bush.
- Birdie birdie in the sky laid a turdie in my eye. If cows could fly I’d have a cow pie in my eye.
- Black back bat.
- Blue bluebird.
- Brisk brave brigadiers brandished broad bright blades, blunderbusses, and bludgeons — balancing them badly.
- Can you can a can as a canner can can a can?
- Can you can a canned can into an un-canned can like a canner can can a canned can into an un-canned can?
- Cooks cook cupcakes quickly.
- Daddy draws doors.
- Double bubble gum, bubbles double.
- Each Easter Eddie eats eighty Easter eggs.
- Eddie edited it.
- Eleven benevolent elephants.
- Elizabeth has eleven elves in her elm tree.
- Flash message.
- Four fine fresh fish for you.
- Four furious friends fought for the phone.
- Fred fed Ted bread and Ted fed Fred bread.
- Fresh French fried fly fritters.
- Fresh fried fish.
- Friendly fleas and fireflies.
- Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear. Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair. Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t fuzzy, was he?
- Give papa a proper cup of coffee in a copper coffee cup.
- Gobbling gargoyles gobbled gobbling goblins.
- Good blood, bad blood.
- Green glass globes glow greenly.
- He threw three free throws.
- How can a clam cram in a clean cream can?
- How many yaks could a yak pack, pack if a yak pack could pack yaks?
- How much ground would a groundhog hog, if a groundhog could hog ground? A groundhog would hog all the ground he could hog, if a groundhog could hog ground.
- How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? He would chuck, he would, as much as he could, and chuck as much wood as a woodchuck would if a woodchuck could chuck wood.
- I have got a date at a quarter to eight; I’ll see you at the gate, so don’t be late.
- I looked right at Larry’s rally and left in a hurry.
- I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen.
- I saw Susie sitting in a shoeshine shop.
- I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.
- I slit the sheet, the sheet I slit, and on the slitted sheet I sit.
- I thought a thought. But the thought I thought Wasn’t the thought I thought I thought. If the thought I thought I thought, Had been the thought I thought, I wouldn’t have thought I thought.
- I thought I thought of thinking of thanking you.
- I wish to wash my Irish wristwatch.
- If a dog chews shoes, whose shoes does he choose?
- If practice makes perfect and perfect needs practice, I’m perfectly practiced and practically perfect.
- If you must cross a course cross cow across a crowded cow crossing, cross the cross coarse cow across the crowded cow crossing carefully.
- If you notice this notice, you will notice that this notice is not worth noticing.
- Imagine an imaginary menagerie manager managing an imaginary menagerie.
- Lesser leather never weathered wetter weather better.
- Linda-Lou Lambert loves lemon lollipop lipgloss.
- Little Lillian lets lazy lizards lie along the lily pads.
- Lucky rabbits like to cause a ruckus.
- Many an anemone sees an enemy anemone.
- Near an ear, a nearer ear, a nearly eerie ear.
- Nine nice night nurses nursing nicely.
- No need to light a night-light on a light night like tonight.
- Of all the vids I’ve ever viewed, I’ve never viewed a vid as valued as Alex’s valuable vid.
- One-one was a race horse. Two-two was one too. One-one won one race. Two-two won one too.
- Pad kid poured curd pulled cod.
- 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, where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
- Picky people pick Peter Pan Peanut-Butter, ’tis the peanut-butter picky people pick.
- Pre-shrunk silk shirts.
- Really leery, rarely Larry.
- Red Buick, blue Buick.
- Red lorry, yellow lorry.
- Roberta ran rings around the Roman ruins.
- Rolling red wagons.
- Rory the warrior and Roger the worrier were reared wrongly in a rural brewery.
- Rory’s lawn rake rarely rakes really right.
- Round and round the rugged rocks the ragged rascal ran.
- Rubber baby buggy bumpers.
- Scissors sizzle, thistles sizzle.
- Selfish shellfish.
- Send toast to ten tense stout saints’ ten tall tents.
- She sees cheese.
- She sells seashells on the seashore. The shells she sells are seashells, I’m sure. And if she sells seashells on the seashore, Then I’m sure she sells seashore shells.
- She stood on the balcony, inexplicably mimicking him hiccuping, and amicably welcoming him in.
- Sheena leads, Sheila needs.
- Six Czech cricket critics.
- Six sick hicks nick six slick bricks with picks and sticks.
- Six sleek swans swam swiftly southwards.
- Six sticky skeletons.
- Smelly shoes and socks shock sisters.
- Snap crackle pop.
- So, this is the sushi chef.
- Something in a thirty-acre thermal thicket of thorns and thistles thumped and thundered threatening the 3D thoughts of Matthew the thug — although, theatrically, it was only the thirteen-thousand thistles and thorns through the underneath of his thigh that the thirty-year-old thug thought of that morning.
- Specific Pacific.
- Stupid superstition.
- “Surely Sylvia swims!” shrieked Sammy surprised. “Someone should show Sylvia some strokes so she shall not sink.”
- Susie works in a shoeshine shop. Where she shines she sits, and where she sits she shines.
- The 33 thieves thought that they thrilled the throne throughout Thursday.
- The big bug bit the little beetle.
- The great Greek grape growers grow great Greek grapes.
- The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick.
- The thirty-three thieves thought that they thrilled the throne throughout Thursday.
- Thin sticks, thick bricks.
- Thirty-three thirsty, thundering thoroughbreds thumped Mr. Thurber on Thursday.
- Thirty-three thousand feathers on a thrushes throat.
- Three free throws.
- Tie twine to three tree twigs.
- Tom threw Tim three thumbtacks.
- Top chopstick shops stock top chopsticks.
- Toy boat. Toy boat. Toy boat.
- Truly rural.
- Twelve twins twirled twelve twigs.
- Two tried and true tridents.
- Wayne went to wales to watch walruses.
- We surely shall see the sun shine soon.
- Which witch is which?
- Which wrist watches are Swiss wrist watches?
- Willie’s really weary.
- Willy’s real rear wheel.
- Yellow butter, purple jelly, red jam, black bread. Spread it thick, say it quick! Yellow butter, purple jelly, red jam, black bread. Spread it thicker, say it quicker! Yellow butter, purple jelly, red jam, black bread.
- You know New York, you need New York, you know you need unique New York.
- Green Greg greedily grifts a grail of green grapes to greet his grandkids.
- Groggy Greg graciously gripes at the groovy groom to grease his grumpiness.
- Greedy Greg gracefully grabs the grocery gristle to grip his gratin.
Head over here for more of my shenanigans.