She Sells Seashells is a tongue twister that was made popular by Terry Sullivan in 1909. There are many claims online that the ditty is a tribute to Mary Anning, a pioneering paleontologist from the 19th century. Although this would be a delightful explanation for this rhyme, there’s no evidence at all that this was the case.
The first documented mention was in 1855 when the words “she sells sea shells” were published as an elocution exercise. In 1871, this short four-word phrase was published again under the heading of “Alliterative Puzzles” for entertainment. Over the next few decades, the phrase was expanded, and Terry Sullivan used this as the basis for the now-famous tongue-twister for children.
The song is also an example of sibilance, where multiple s letters are used in combination to create a hissing sounds, which makes the song even more fun, especially for toddlers trying to get a grasp of the language.
She Sells Seashells Lyrics
She sells seashells by the seashore,
The shells she sells are seashells, I’m sure.
So if she sells seashells on the seashore,
Then I’m sure she sells seashore shells.