Betty Botter

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Recitation of Betty Botter tongue-twister

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Betty Botter is a tongue-twister written by Carolyn Wells.[1][2] It was originally titled "The Butter Betty Bought." By the middle of the 20th century, it had become part of the Mother Goose collection of nursery rhymes.[3]


The construction is based on alliteration, using the repeated two-syllable pattern /'b__tə 'b__tə 'b__tə/ with a range of vowels in the first, stressed syllable. The difficulty is in clearly and consistently differentiating all the vowels from each other.

They are almost all short vowels:
/æ/ batter
/e/ better - Betty
/ɪ/ bitter - bit o'
/ɒ/ Botter
/ʌ/ butter
with one long vowel /ɔ:/ 'Bought a'


When it was first published in "The Jingle Book" in 1899 it read:[4]

Betty Botter bought some butter;
“But,” said she, “this butter’s bitter!
If I put it in my batter
It will make my batter bitter.
But a bit o’ better butter
Will but make my batter better.”
Then she bought a bit o’ butter
Better than the bitter butter,
Made her bitter batter better.
So ’twas better Betty Botter
Bought a bit o’ better butter.

NB: This version above is the original. Please check the source material before editing; add variations in the variations section.


"Betty Botter" has some variations, but most are very similar.[5][6][7][8]

Alternative versions may add extra words to clarify the meaning, such as "I would like to make some ... tasted her butter and said... and threw away her ..." in this Caribbean version, which focuses on the story content instead of the tongue-twister content:

Betty Botter had a bit of butter and said,
"I would like to make some batter."
Betty Botter tasted her butter and said,
"If I put this in my batter it would make my batter bitter."
Betty Botter bought some fresher butter and threw away her bitter butter
Betty put her butter in her batter and it made her batter better.

Other versions emphasize the tongue-twister content by minimizing extraneous words:

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.

Some versions are shortened:

Betty bought some butter but the butter she bought was bitter,
So she bought some better butter to make the bitter batter better

Another version:

Betty Botter bought some butter.
But she said this butter's bitter,
If I put it in my batter it will
make my batter bitter...
So...Betty Botter bought a
Bit of better butter and made
Her batter bunch better.

Another Version:

Betty bought a bit of butter, but the butter was too bitter
So, Betty bought some other butter to make the bitter butter better.

Canadian writer Dennis Lee included an extended version entitled "The Sitter and the Butter and the Better Batter Fritter" in his classic children's poetry collection Alligator Pie.


  1. ^ The Jingle Book, Carolyn Wells (Macmillan, New York), 1899, page 86
  2. ^ "A Book of American Humorous Verse" edited by James Whitcomb Riley, Duffield & Company, New York, 1917, page 169, in which Ms. Wells' authorship and Macmillan's original copyright is acknowledged.
  3. ^ The Oxford dictionary of nursery rhymes, edited by Iona and Peter Opie, Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1951; page 84-85
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