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Do your articulators need a workout?

Are you fresh out of ideas for vocal warmups?
Check out this cool tongue twister that was brought to my attention called “Theophilus Thistle” in today’s VOX Daily.

In The Thick of Thistles

Yesterday my dad was visiting and happened to do a lot of work in our backyard uprooting thistles that were steeped in the lawn and vegetable garden. As you may know, thistles are terrible weeds that smart tender footsies when stepped upon and the elimination of these prickly pests gave way for celebration via a Facebook update posted to my profile last night.

Tim Lundeen avatar on Voices.comAfter a few requests rolled in for my dad to come weed other peoples’ gardens, another comment arrived from Tim Lundeen (pictured at left) noting that the update reminded him of Theophilus Thistle, a gentleman I was hitherto unaware of.

Following a quick Google search for the name Theophilus Thistle, I was met by a challenging tongue twister with several variations about a thistle sifter called Theophilus Thistle.

Theophilus Thistle

Theophilus Thistle, the successful thistle sifter,
In sifting a sieve full of unsifted thistles,
Thrust three thousand thistles through the thick of his thumb.
If Theophilus Thistle, the successful thistle sifter,
Can thrust three thousand thistles through the thick of his thumb,
See thou, in sifting a sieve full of unsifted thistles,
Thrust not three thousand thistles through the thick of thy thumb.
A more compact version reads:
Theophilus Thistle, the Thistle Sifter,
Sifted a sieve of unsifted thistles.
If Theophilus Thistle, the Thistle Sifter,
Sifted a sieve of unsifted thistles,
Where is the sieve of un-sifted thistles
Theophilus Thistle, the Thistle Sifter, sifted?

Do You Have Any Tongue Twisters To Share?

Be sure to comment and include your favorite tongue twisters!
Best wishes,
© McGehee


  1. Here’s one I use:
    If you stick a stock of liquor in your locker
    It is quick to stick a lock upon your stock
    Or some joker who is quicker’s
    Going to trick you of your liquor
    If you fail to lock your liquor with a lock
    … and another (from a Tom Lehrer song “Clementine”):
    That I missed her depressed her young sister named Esther
    This mister to pester she tried
    Now a pestering sister’s a festering blister
    You’re best to resister say I
    The mister resisted, the sister persisted
    I kissed her – all loyalty slipped
    When she said I could have her
    Her sister’s cadaver
    Must surely had turned in its crypt

  2. Good morning, Stephanie!
    I love tongue twisters! One of my favorite collections is in a book entitled “You Said A Mouthful” Tongue Twisters to Tangle, Titillate, Test and Tease by Roger Karshner. Theophilus Thistle is included in all its varieties. My agent Toni Silveri recommends this book for warming up the articulators before a session. Amazon’s got it – enjoy!

  3. My 2 favourite ones…
    Are you copper-bottoming ’em, my man?
    No, I’m aluminuming ’em, ma’am…”
    “The sixth sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick..”

  4. All the way through childhood, friends would always try to catch me with a trippy twister to tongue tangle and truly trouble my talent for tongue twisters…. well for some reason, I never found one that I couldn’t say countless times and very fast…. UNTIL THIS ONE!!!
    It got thrown at me a few years back and stopped me dead in my tracks!
    “The Sixth Sick Sheik’s
    Sixth Sheep’s Sick”
    That’s all… I can make it once and I’m twisted.
    But even if you never get it, you’ve still gotten a great sibilance workout.

  5. How much wood could a woodchuck chuck
    If a woodchuck could chuck wood
    as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck
    if a woodchuck could chuck wood
    Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers
    Missus M, Missus I, Missus S S I, Missus S S I, Missus P P I

  6. I sometimes think the old ones are the best – my grandfather’s was “The Leith Police Dismissith us” – apparently used in conjunction with white-line walking!

  7. I’m a fox in socks man myself
    Luke Luck likes lakes, Luke’s duck likes lakes,
    Luke luck licks lakes, Luke’s duck licks lakes.
    Luke Luck licks lakes that duck likes,
    Luke’s duck licks lakes that Luke Luck likes…

  8. This was a real-life tongue twister that gave me a bit of difficulty, one Christmas Eve, when I was trying to get home to my family.
    I had a stack of 20 carts already (yes, this was a few years ago), was tired and cranky, when I ran into a commercial for a Farm Implement company. They were selling “rotary windrow rakes.” 36 takes later (and a few broken carts, from throwing them against a wall), I finally had the spots (there were two sixties) recorded and ready for air.
    There were also, “Flavo-Rich Fruit Pops in all your favorite fruit flavors.” WHEW!

  9. Hi Stephanie,
    Loving the tongue twisters! However, I prefer mine to be short, sharp and sweet…try this and say it numerous times in quick succession
    “Unique New York” How many times can you manage to say it without stumbling?

  10. My dad’s favorite was “toy boat toy boat toy boat…” I like “I slit a sheet, a sheet I slit, upon the slitted sheet I sit.” 🙂

  11. She stood in the window of Burgesses’ Fish Store shop
    Inexplicably mimicking him and welcoming him in.
    I’m not the pretty banjo player, I’m the pretty banjo player’s mate
    I’m only playing the pretty banjo player’s banjo,
    because the pretty banjo player’s running pretty late.

  12. This thread is so much fun!! Love reading “Fox in Socks”
    OK, how many times can you say “social security” without fumbling over your words?
    Good luck!!

  13. Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper. If Peter Piper picked at peck of pickled peppers, how may pickled peppers did Peter Piper pick?

  14. I always have trouble w/this one: “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck is a woodchuck could chuck wood?” (try saying it really fast!!!)

  15. Professor Peter P. Perkins’ patented pale pink & purty purple pills for the pale, peeked, palid & puny people! Thanks KBF, & Doctor I. Will Skinem’s Mother Murphy’s Magic Mixture Medicine Show!

  16. (This one may have made the Guinness Book)…….
    “The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick.”
    (This is a repeat fast and giggle one)………
    One smart fellow; he felt smart.

  17. ‎”red rubber baby buggy bumpes”……”aluminum, linoeum…” (repeat this quickly & see how well you do…hehehe)

  18. If you enjoy creative tongue twisting, check out this clip from the animated series “Pinky & The Brain” — one wonders how many takes each voice actor needed to get through this exchange.

  19. I have been doing Theophilius Thifter in public for decades. Most people have not heard it before. Also..I have fun with One Hen Two Ducks. Not a tongue twister, but hard to memorize.


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