History of Stuttering

Stuttering was, and largely still is, a historic riddle with more questions than answers regarding causes, cures and treatments. Stuttering history goes back to beginning of language.  Stuttering is likely to be as old as speech itself and is shown in every social group. Any large population group, 1% will stutter.  

There is evidence stuttering was recognized amongst the ancient Egyptians as long ago as 2000 BC.  They used the descriptive term ‘nıtıt’ – translated means “speaking earthquake”.  It seems that Moses may have been a stutterer according to some interpretations of the Old Testament.

For centuries, it was believed the tongue was responsible for stuttering.  In ancient Greece, Demosthenes, friend of Aristotle, popularized the method of speaking with pebbles in the mouth to control stuttering (NOT recommended).  During the18th/19th centuries surgical procedures were conducted on the tongue to improve the freedom to move around the mouth.  Surgeons would cut the tongue and nerves around the tongue in attempt to free-up the tongue and restore fluent speech. Some patients bled to death and there is no evidence these procedures cured stuttering or improved speech fluency.  Later in 19th century, theories of secondary symptoms, such as grimaces, were seen not as a consequence of irregular speech but rather its cause.  

History of art often depicts stutterers with an oversized tongue and large spectacles (nearsighted).

Some famous people are stutterers including King George VI (6th).  He ascended to the throne in 1936 and his speech therapy lessons were chronicled in the movie The Kings Speech.  Others famous stutters include country singer/songwritter Mel Tillis, current U.S. President Joe Biden, and multi-sport athlete Bo Jackson.  

Chronic stuttering can be a serious communication problem for both speaker and listener.  Not only this, but secondary psychosocial symptoms also develop such as personal feelings of shame or anxiety, discrimination.  The majority of stutters have experienced bullying, harassment, or ridicule to some degree during their school years, from both peers and teachers who do not fully understand the condition.  

It can be especially difficult for stutterers to form friendships or romantic relationships, both because stutterers may avoid social exposure and because non-stutterers may find the disorder unattractive.  There is evidence of negative attitudes to people who stutter on the part of employers and the general public.  In a survey of people who stutter, 67.6% of respondents believed their capabilities had at times been misjudged by supervisors, and 28.3% considered they had not received a job promotion due to their stutter.

The U.S. Congress passed a resolution in 1988 designating the second week of May as Stuttering Awareness Week, while International Stuttering Awareness Day, held Oct.  Even though public awareness of stuttering has improved markedly over the years, misconceptions are still common, usually reinforced by inaccurate media portrayals of stuttering and through popular misconceptions.  The majority of people view the cause of stuttering as either nervousness or low self-confidence. Even today, mainstream speech pathology offers no clear path to speech fluency and supports acceptance.

Although the history of stuttering has been unremarkable, the future is VERY bright!  For the first time in history, there is a path to fluency for stutters!  Become a StutterMind member, learn the speech fluency breakthrough tools and methods and improve the quality of life.  




Rice M, Kroll R.,(2006),  The impact of stuttering at work: challenges and discrimination From International Stuttering Awareness Day Online Conference. Retrieved 2011-02-26

Sibylle Brosch, Wolfgang Pirsig (2001), Special communication: history of otorhinolaryngology Stuttering in history and culture, International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology 59, 81–87

Ronald L. Webster (2014), From Stuttering to Fluent Speech, 6,300 Cases Later: Unlocking Muscle Mischief, North Charleston, South Carolina:  CreativeSpace Independent Publishing Platform