The Hardest Tongue Twister

This week, my dad and brother are visiting for a couple days. As often happens with family, we’ve been reverting to our childhood selves and making dumb jokes, busting out old nicknames (my brother is Tiny, and I’m Fofie) and giving each other riddles.

This morning’s conversation topic? The hardest tongue twister in the world: “Toy boat, toy boat, toy boat.”

Seriously, try it, it’s impossible. Alex can almost do it but then starts to sound Canadian.

Here’s a longer list of tongue twisters, if you’re in a nerdy mood like we are.

P.S. More random posts: How a key works and how to introduce someone.

  1. I think it’s perfectly fine to use a glottal stop in between the t’s. This is fairly natural for a lot of natives. :)

  2. My boys were practicing their tounge twisters last week on spring break. They are going to have a blast with these new ones.

  3. Ha Ha! That’s hilarious because I had no problem saying it and I’m as Canadian as they come.

  4. what about “rural juror” from 3rd rock?

  5. That one’s not so bad :) The hardest ones I remember are from choir class warm-ups: “Unique New York, Unique New York, Unique New York” and “Red Leather, Yellow Leather” (x3)

  6. The toy boat one was super easy! Irish Wristwatches is seriously tricky!

  7. My husband is French and he can do it, no problem. I remember the first time I told him about this he rattled it off like nothing. My jaw dropped LOL

  8. My nickname is Tiny

  9. Hahaha. I am grinning like an idiot saying this to myself.

  10. My favourite is also very simple. Easier if you read it, but surprisingly hard: “Unique New York”

  11. I slit a sheet
    A sheet I slit
    Upon a slitted sheet I sit.

    • Ishae says...

      What is the meaning of this tongue twister?

  12. Thanks for the response re: your nickname – that is adorable! So funny how things revert back when you are with family. We recently went on a family trip together (my parents, my husband, son and I, my brother sister in law and their 3 kids) and despite my brother Joel and I being full adults, kids of our own, both lawyers, all week we were being called Jo-Jo (instead of Joel) and Renner (instead of Renae).

  13. I can’t say it and I am Canadian. I didn’t realize there was a “Canadian” accent – people across the country have different accents, just like in the States.

  14. “Three witches watch three Swatch watches. Which witch watch which Swatch watch?” Can you say it??


    “Katie, Katie, bo-batie,
    Banana-fana fo-fatie

    and when you do it with joanna, you say “banana fanna fofanna” so my dad started calling me “fofanna,” which then morphed into “fofans,” which then became “fofie,” and sometimes “fofs.” haha :)” —-> I’m laughing out loud.


    I am deeply curious to know why you’re Fofie.

  16. It was easy for me, and I’m from Minnesota. Must be cause we’re good at the Oooooooos, dontcha know!?

  17. Wondering if accent is playing a huge part here because I have no trouble saying toy boat over and over, nor Irish wristwatches, but I can imaging how these words sound a lot more like each other with an American accent. “Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry” on the other hand…

    • Many times it happens that way. We often just wish things were different

  18. I had no problem with that one but I’m Australian so there’s a good chance I pronounce the words differently to you!

    My kids (8 and 4) can’t say “She sells seashells by the seashore”. They always come out with “See sells see sells by the see saw”! The crazy thing is that they can’t even hear how they’re saying it wrong! They’e completely convinced that they’ve got it right. It makes me wonder if they think that particular tongue twister is set in a playground rather than at the beach ;)

  19. this is surprisingly easy to say with a South African accent!

  20. I used to do these all the time in choir! Toy boat is definitely one of the hardest ones. And whenever someone starts red leather yellow leather, there’s always a collective groan to be heard :P -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

  21. M says...

    It’s not really a tongue twister, but I always say “Peggy Babcock” to twist up my tongue when I’m warming up my voice!

  22. @renae, it’s from that old rhyme…

    Katie, Katie, bo-batie,
    Banana-fana fo-fatie

    and when you do it with joanna, you say “banana fanna fofanna” so my dad started calling me “fofanna,” which then morphed into “fofans,” which then became “fofie,” and sometimes “fofs.” haha :)

  23. I did it (also Canadian – maybe it’s a thing). How did your nickname start?

    Here’s a hard one? “the sixth sick sheikh’s sixth sheeps sick”

  24. Haha, what exactly is a Canadian accept? I am Canadian and I’ve always thought Canadians and Americans sound the same!

  25. RBV laughing out loud in the car with my family, thank you ;)

  26. My daughter is addicted to Fox In Socks right now and I am so sick of it that I’m perfecting my speed-read, so I guess I must be in tongue twister mode. None of the (English) ones were difficult. But maybe it’s just that Canadians are that awesome. :)

  27. One smart fellow, he felt smart.


  28. chipmunk puppet

    my dad worked at a store that sold chipmunk puppets when he was in college and he quickly realized how difficult it can be to say just once, let alone three times in a row. : )

  29. Also Canadian, also can do it. It’s a Canadian thing!

  30. “Shaws sells fresh sushi” is a favorite in my family. I discovered it while grocery shopping in high school. 10 years later and I still can’t say it three times fast.

  31. I second irish wristwatch! toughest tongue-twister for me!

  32. No problem. But I’m also from Canada.

  33. I can do it! But maybe it is because I am Canadian! It’s all in the accent….

  34. I can do it if I say it in a British accent! (I’m American). Guess I was meant to be British after all… ;)


  35. Now I can’t get toy boat, toy boat, toy boat out of my head. Actually, I can’t get it out of my mouth either.

  36. Enjoy your family’s visit! I’ll be in NYC this weekend for the first time since I was 16! Gulp. I’m a little intimidated but super excited! I’m going to my friend Ansel Elkins’s book party; her debut book of poems, Blue Yodel, was just released. I arrive tomorrow; the book party is Thursday, and I’m staying through the weekend. It’s a bit… ambitious… but I may try The Class while I’m in town; have you or Caroline tried it? I’m intrigued. Yes, this is a first: working out on “vacation.” :)

  37. I can say it! I think….:…now I’m overthinking it and am wondering if i’m doing it wrong somehow.

    Any tongue twister (okay, or word pairing in general) with “r” in it…I’m out!

    Also, seeing the tongue twisters in different languages just gave me a whole new level of respect. @_@

  38. Red leather yellow leather is my downfall too!

  39. Toy Boat isn’t that hard for me, maybe I’m saying it too slowly. On the other hand, I can’t even PRONOUNCE Irish Wristwatches! Haha

  40. I vote for – red leather yellow leather!

  41. Last year, I lived in a small university town in Turkey teaching English. One week I did a unit in all my classes on pronunciation and one of the days was dedicated to English tongue twisters. In my first class, I foolishly agreed that if a few of my students tried the English tongue twisters, that I would try Turkish ones. They’re no joke! At that time I was barely conversational in Turkish, and to add to the embarrassment, pronunciation was my weakest area! My students had a good laugh at me struggling over this one: “bu yoğurdu sarımsaklasak da mı saklasak, sarımsaklamasak da mı saklasak”… but I practiced and practiced and at the end of the semester I surprised them by doing it perfectly! It ended up being one of those rare cross cultural bonding moments that I look back on fondly.

  42. Try this one-

    The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick.

    Supposedly it’s the world’s hardest tongue twister. I know I can’t say it!

  43. Here comes a tongue twister in Swiss German (for Alex to practice for his next business trip!):

    Dä Papscht hät s Bschteck zschpoot bschtellt.

    Means: The pope ordered the cutlery too late.
    Have fun! Liebe Grüsse aus Zürich.

  44. In Polish we have many difficult ones, this one being one of them: W Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie i Szczebrzeszyn z tego słynie.

  45. Tongue twisters always remind me of Anchorman! “How now brown cow” and “The Human Torch is denied a bank loan” :-)

  46. nauseous sausage

  47. if you say “joy boat” first a bunch of times, then switch to “toy boat”, it’s a lot easier!!! :)

  48. Girl gargoyle, guy gargoyle 3X fast.

  49. I can do it! But then again…I’m Canadian. Maybe that gives you an edge.

  50. Haha! I said it easily and thought, what’s so hard about that? But then once you try saying it more than 3 times you realize it truly is impossible!

  51. that is nuts! i am sitting here laughing like a crazy person….by myself….see, crazy person ;) toyboyt.

  52. Awesome post and first comment.