Definition of tongue-twister in US English:



  • A sequence of words or sounds, typically of an alliterative kind, that are difficult to pronounce quickly and correctly, as, for example, tie twine to three tree twigs.

    • ‘It may be a tongue-twister for non-Dutch speakers to pronounce, but the food - simple, tasty and distinctively homemade - crosses all borders.’
    • ‘Chukchi of all ages have traditionally enjoyed listening to folk-tales, reciting tongue-twisters, singing, and dancing.’
    • ‘After enjoying the hospitality of Mr Speaker, reference to the Judicial Matters Bill can be something of a tongue-twister at 7.30 p.m.’
    • ‘By way of putting them at ease in a recording situation, Nigel preceded this by asking the children to talk about, and give examples of, games, rhymes, jokes, riddles and tongue-twisters known to them.’
    • ‘Yet the advent of commercialism has created a series of games which sound more like tongue-twisters concocted by a five-year-old than occasions of genuine sporting grandeur.’
    • ‘With each alternative more of a tongue-twister than the next, understandably Holi is the word popularly preferred.’
    • ‘That means ensuring that important notes carry important words, that the vowel-sounds are singable at a given pitch, and that if there are clusters of consonants they do not make the song into a tongue-twister.’
    • ‘Whoever is commentating on the races at Newcastle tomorrow had better start rehearsing a tongue-twister of a name tonight.’
    • ‘To be sure, tongue-twisters such as 'She sells sea shells on the sea shore' and 'The Leith police dismisseth us' do conform to the syntax of English and the expressions can certainly be said to ‘mean’ something.’
    • ‘The most embarrassing moment to realize that there is a tongue-twister in the prayer is when you say it aloud for the first time in worship, and the whole congregation snickers.’
    • ‘The source of their breathless joy is usually dumb knock-knock jokes, tongue-twisters, or inane comic observations: the empty, shallow stuff that comprises the vast majority of human communication.’
    • ‘Then, a few girls took over and uttered the tongue-twisters with utmost ease cutting the men to size.’
    • ‘Hopefully, no unsuspecting schoolchild will be expected to read the report out loud as it is a hotbed of alliteration and tongue-twisters.’
    • ‘Now they're saddled with Slavonic tongue-twisters with more consonants and fewer vowels than can possibly be good for them.’
    • ‘Every day, he got up early and read tongue-twisters aloud to improve his diction and develop his facial muscles.’
    • ‘Botanical names for plants are often tongue-twisters, but they are handy things to get a grip on because they can tell one a lot about a plant, without even seeing it.’
    long word, difficult word
    View synonyms



/ˈtəŋ ˌtwɪstər//ˈtəNG ˌtwistər/