Main definitions of mum in English

: mum1mum2mum3mum4

mum1

adjective

  • [predicative] Silent.

    • ‘However, his doctors are still remaining mum on his condition until the complete tests take place later this week.’
    • ‘These shows depend on contestants remaining mum about the show's outcome until the airdate.’
    • ‘The company is remaining mum on the core question about its instant messaging technology.’
    • ‘We didn't really see much reason for it, but we remained mum all the same.’
    • ‘They kept their engagement and pregnancy mum for months.’
    • ‘Well the most wonderful thing happened last night, but I have to be mum on the subject, so I can't say a word.’
    • ‘He was mum as to whether the carrier plans to turn it on in the future.’
    silent, quiet, mute, dumb, tight-lipped, close-mouthed, uncommunicative, unforthcoming, reticent, secretive
    mumchance
    View synonyms

Phrases

  • keep mum

    • informal Remain silent, especially so as not to reveal a secret.

      ‘he was keeping mum about a possible move to West Ham’
      • ‘The CIA though has conveniently kept mum as of now.’
      • ‘But New York Times staffers kept mum not so much out of fear of reprisals as out of respect for the institution.’
      • ‘A good friend can keep mum about your deepest darkest secrets.’
      • ‘Defying the age of celebrity, and resisting the lucrative market for antiquities, the property owner kept mum about his treasure for decades.’
      • ‘The fish sign took two people to make - you made a curved line casually on the ground with a toe, if the other person didn't add the other curve you kept mum.’
      • ‘I kept mum, as it were, about the fact I'd had an abortion.’
      • ‘The hospital authorities also kept mum about his visit.’
      • ‘Many Gandhians who had kept mum during earlier riots are protesting this time and actively working for restoration of peace.’
      • ‘Think what you may; keeping mum gives me one secret more.’
      • ‘I presume that the teachers and administration kept mum and can only suppose that it was the boy himself who publicized his problems.’
      silent, quiet, mute, dumb, tight-lipped, close-mouthed, uncommunicative, unforthcoming, reticent, secretive
      mumchance
      View synonyms
  • mum's the word

    • informal (as a request or warning) say nothing; do not reveal a secret.

      ‘I know I can rely upon your discretion, mum's the word’
      • ‘But she knew that it was going to be mum's the word and Faith would find out when she arrived in the principal's office Monday morning.’
      • ‘Go out and have some fun, but remember, mum's the word!’
      • ‘The mystery is certainly captivating Washington, while mum's the word at the White House.’
      • ‘For when it came to telling her mother of her dramatic ordeal, Jenny decided it was a case of mum's the word.’
      • ‘He also said not to mention that I was paid to write an update for him, so mum's the word.’
      • ‘But the best thing of all about all the hand-outs in this welfare state is that mum's the word, when it comes to explaining to taxpayers why you need their money.’
      say nothing, keep quiet, don't breathe a word, don't tell a soul, don't give the game away, keep it secret, keep it to yourself, keep it under your hat, play dumb
      play the daft baddie, play the daft lassie
      don't let on, keep shtum, don't let the cat out of the bag
      View synonyms

Origin

Late Middle English: imitative of a sound made with closed lips.

Pronunciation:

mum

/mʌm/

Main definitions of mum in English

: mum1mum2mum3mum4

mum2

verb

[NO OBJECT]
  • Act in a traditional masked mime or a mummers' play.

    ‘after they had masked and mummed, away they went’
    • ‘It's an old tradition, which, along with wassailing and mumming, we have performed over the years in and around Skipton, and many people, especially those young in heart, enjoy the music and dance in which all are invited to participate.’
    • ‘The mummers wore oversized, wire-constructed costumes and carried little umbrellas as they mummed along.’
    • ‘The common and consistent point is that they took a selection of historic performance practices - morris dances and sword dances, mumming, and others in England - and declared them to be the survivals of ancient sacrificial rituals.’
    • ‘He was the first to draw scholarly attention to the custom of Christmas mumming in Newfoundland and its accompanying traditional drama, as evidenced in the standard work on the subject, Christmas Mumming in Newfoundland.’
    • ‘An essential part of the mumming tradition was audience participation, with the crowd hissing the dragon and cheering St George to victory, and that's probably where we get our robust pantomime backchat these days.’
    • ‘The Camloch Mummers have been invited to the festival this year, and responses to a questionnaire on the mumming or rhymers tradition are asked for.’
    • ‘The English writers thought they found sacrifice in sword dancing and mumming, which sometimes included mock killings; surely this reflected ancient sacrifices, faded to rude play acting?’
    • ‘The section on popular masking proceeds through chapters on early masking, carnival, and mumming, all of which pursue a contextual approach to these forms.’
    • ‘He and others argued that English morris dancing and sword dancing, and mumming, were closely linked, and in fact represented the surviving fragments of a once-united, pan-European sacrificial ritual.’

Origin

Late Middle English: compare with mum and Middle Low German mummen.

Pronunciation:

mum

/mʌm/

Main definitions of mum in English

: mum1mum2mum3mum4

mum3

noun

informal
  • A cultivated chrysanthemum.

    • ‘However, if you live in a climate with winters marked by regular hard freezes, you can improve your mums ' winter survival by cutting off tops after new growth begins in spring.’
    • ‘A hollowed pumpkin is a fitting place to tuck a small pot of mums or an arrangement of fresh or dried flowers.’
    • ‘Put tall plants behind short ones and plan to have continuous color from the first flowering bulbs of early spring to hardy mums, which will withstand a light frost.’
    • ‘The flower lady buffed the bouquet out with orchids, mums, other fragrant weird blooms I don't know the names of, and various greens.’
    • ‘The deep green fine-textured foliage of mums is remarkably aromatic, lending a distinctive ambience to the containers in which they are planted.’
    • ‘Then the first cold front rolls in, slays the mums, frosts the lawn, whistles down the chimney and signals the reign of the new season.’
    • ‘Jaws gaped, dessert was quickly served, and the topic moved to something like the appropriate watering time for mums.’
    • ‘Garden mums give us a burst of color in the fall when used to replace the annuals we have enjoyed since spring.’
    • ‘Autumn's butterflies - fritillaries and migrating monarchs - match the burnt-orange mums just beginning to bloom.’
    • ‘Whether you want to compete or simply collect mums, the National Chrysanthemum Society has 43 chapters across the country.’
    • ‘Saint Mary's Church was decorated with pink and white mums.’
    • ‘When my primroses have served their cheerful spring purpose, it will be easy to replace them with pots of other colorful summer favorites such as mums, asters, or a geranium.’
    • ‘Pumpkins, bales of hay, mums in colors that mimic the trees, a few scarecrows and a wooden black cat complete the package.’
    • ‘Autumn-colored mums, pink carnations and fucshia orchids lining the streets.’

Origin

Late 19th century: abbreviation.

Pronunciation:

mum

/mʌm/

Main definitions of mum in English

: mum1mum2mum3mum4

mum4

noun

British
informal
  • One's mother.

    ‘she often goes round to see her mum, who lives nearby’
    mom
    [as name] ‘Jane worried all the way home about telling Mum’
    • ‘When my mum spoke it was more scary than receiving a beating.’
    • ‘The Robinson girls not only learned how to grow vegetables but also, thanks to the expert tutelage of mum Joan, how to cook them.’
    • ‘Here we speak to a first-time mum, a mother of four and that other essential to baby-making, a father, about their experiences of life after childbirth.’
    • ‘Her comparison of older mothers to teenage mums and her call for government intervention is likely to prove highly controversial.’
    • ‘If your mum clicked with their mum then you would have a new friend whether you liked it or not!’
    • ‘His mum was a single mother who had a succession of boyfriends, none of whom were able to act as a father figure to him or his sister Denise.’
    • ‘Like his mum - and her mother before her - Tom suffers from aura migraines.’
    • ‘His mum Shirley was a devout Christian woman, a Methodist, just a touch humourless but endlessly patient, kind and smiling.’
    • ‘But with my youngest daughter, we took the initiative and named her after Mum's mother's mum, Asantewaa.’
    • ‘My mum lives in Scotland and she thinks I'm a star.’
    • ‘Recalling his hospital visits in his mother's last days, Hugh writes about how he made his beloved mum laugh by wearing her bedpan as a hat and blowing up surgical gloves to resemble udders.’
    • ‘I am a working mum living in a rural village 17 km from Lismore.’
    • ‘‘I like to do the mum thing and help out at school and you cannot do that when you are working full time,’ she says.’
    • ‘Was I jumping to conclusions thinking of my mum as a careless mother?’
    • ‘She wasn't my real mother - my real mum died when she had me - but I called her my mama.’
    • ‘They are the ultimate ‘new men’, happy to gossip at the school gates with the mums while their own child's mother is out at work pursuing her career and bringing in the family income.’
    • ‘As much as the vast majority of people adore their mums, mums are still one of the most frustrating and annoying creatures to walk this planet.’
    • ‘A defiant single mum plans to create a haven for her children and their friends to rebuild community spirit after standing up to nuisance neighbours.’
    • ‘These results are great news for all mums, but working mums will feel particularly reassured.’
    • ‘Despite their loss, her mum Patti and family have now thrown themselves into raising cash for research into the rare disease.’

Origin

Mid 17th century: abbreviation of mummy.

Pronunciation:

mum

/mʌm/