• synonyms


See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
  1. silent; not saying a word: to keep mum.
  1. say nothing! be silent!
  1. mum's the word, do not reveal what you know (about something); keep silent: Mum's the word, or the surprise party won't be a surprise.

Origin of mum1

1350–1400; Middle English momme; imitative


or mumm

verb (used without object), mummed, mum·ming.
  1. to say “mum”; call for silence.
  2. to act as a mummer.

Origin of mum2

1350–1400; Middle English mommen, v. use of mum1; compare Middle Dutch mommen to act the mummer's part


  1. chrysanthemum.

Origin of mum3

shortened form


noun Chiefly British.
  1. mother1.

Origin of mum4

1815–25; nursery word; see mom


  1. a strong beer or ale, first made in Brunswick, Germany.

Origin of mum5

First recorded in 1630–40, mum is from the German word Mumme, said to have been named after the brewer who made it


noun Chiefly British.
  1. madam.

Origin of mum6

variant of ma'am
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for mum

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • You were the little clerk who sat so mum in the corner, and then cried fy on the gleeman.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • Ye haven't; then I very much doubt if ye'll see him this day, mum.

  • "I'm afraid as how the house was too quiet for Mr. Grierson, mum," she wound up.

    People of Position

    Stanley Portal Hyatt

  • If you please, Mum, it's below the waist; I think I can manage with the dummy.

  • And if you should chance to meet this party again, remember, mum's the word.'

    Against Odds

    Lawrence L. Lynch

British Dictionary definitions for mum


  1. mainly British an informal word for mother 1

Word Origin

C19: a child's word


  1. keeping information to oneself; silent
  1. mum's the word silence or secrecy is to be observed

Word Origin

C14: suggestive of closed lips



verb mums, mumming or mummed
  1. (intr) to act in a mummer's play

Word Origin

C16: verbal use of mum ²


  1. British obsolete a type of beer made from cereals, beans, etc

Word Origin

C17: from German Mumme, perhaps from the name of its original brewer
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for mum


"be silent," 1560s, from Middle English mum, mom (late 14c.), inarticulate closed-mouth sound, indicative of unwillingness or inability to speak. As an adjective meaning "secret" from 1520s. Phrase mum's the word is first recorded 1704.


abbreviation of chrysanthemum, first attested 1915 in the jargon of gardeners.


pet word for "mother," 1823, short for mummy (see mamma). In British sociology, used from 1957 in reference to "the working class mother as an influence in the lives of her children." Also sometimes a vulgar corruption of madam.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper