Can someone explain the meaning of the following tongue twister:Rubber baby buggy bumpers? I am familiar with the meaning of individual words, but am still not sure that I get the meaning of the whole phrase? Thanks in advance.

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    It's not a sentence, but a phrase describing something: adj., adj., adj., n. inverted: Bumpers made of rubber for a buggy used for babies. No different, essentially, than any other string of adjectives and a noun: dark blue dinner jacket. – anongoodnurse Apr 18 '15 at 22:52
  • I know that it's a phrase, I meant the syntax of a noun phrase :) – Byroteck Apr 18 '15 at 22:54
  • Then you want the order of adjectives. – anongoodnurse Apr 18 '15 at 22:57
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    @Byroteck It's really not clear what you're asking at this point. Medica has provided both the syntax and the semantics of the phrase: syntactically, it's a noun phrase after the pattern AAAN. Semantically, it means bumpers, made for baby buggies (i.e. strollers), composed of rubber. What else do you want to know? – Dan Bron Apr 18 '15 at 23:03
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    Just to be clear for future readers, it's a "tongue twister". The term "baby buggy" means "baby carriage" or "pram" or "perambulator". A "bumper" is a device attached to something (such as a baby buggy) to protect it from damage when it runs into some other object. "Rubber" is the material from which the bumper is constructed. – Hot Licks Apr 19 '15 at 1:51

The collocation of words you've drawn attention to comprise what is called a tongue twister (see here). Other examples include the following.

She sells seashells by the seashore.


The glum groom grew glummer.


Sneak thieves seized the skis.


Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

The primary purpose of a tongue twister is to entertain yourself and others. The standard method of doing so is by challenging someone to say the tongue twister, say, ten times in quick succession without stumbling on the words. The first person to do it successfully, wins.

As for your "rubber baby-buggy bumpers," for years a wheeled device for transporting babies, infants, and toddlers was called a baby buggy (or a pram, in the UK; pram being a shortened and altered version of the word perambulator]). The latest equivalent expression is a baby stroller. I'm assuming--perhaps wrongly--that the wheels on baby strollers today, as in days of yore, are still made of rubber, at the least the part that contacts the sidewalk or pavement.

If a baby buggy were to be equipped with a device similar to the front and/or rear bumpers on an automobile, and those bumpers were made of rubber, then I guess you'd have a baby buggy with rubber bumpers.

If you find a picture of a baby buggy with rubber bumpers, please let me know, as I'd be interested in seeing it!


Contributor Mari-Lou A referred me to Google Images, where pram + bumpers yields these pictures.

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  • I've always heard She sells seashells down by the seashore which is also, in my opinion, much harder to say. – Jim Apr 19 '15 at 3:31
  • @Jim: Thanks for the correction. I'll change Sally to she forthwith. (Must have been a clerical error!). Don – rhetorician Apr 20 '15 at 2:20
  • Baby stroller with bumper You get similar results for "pram with bumper" on Google images. – Mari-Lou A Apr 20 '15 at 2:36
  • @Mari-LouA: Correct. Why didn't you change it? I wouldn't have taken umbrage, or been miffed, annoyed, irritated, riled, peeved, irritated, nettled, vexed, or even goaded! Don – rhetorician Apr 21 '15 at 0:29
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    @JeffAxelrod: Yeah, there's nothing like a good fart joke! Don – rhetorician Mar 25 '16 at 14:15

[Rubber] [[baby-buggy] bumpers].

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