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or mumm

[muhm] /mʌm/
verb (used without object), mummed, mumming.
to say “mum”; call for silence.
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 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for mumming
Historical Examples
  • At Christmastime in one of these winters a few of the boys of the night-school went round the village, mumming.

    Change in the Village (AKA George Bourne) George Sturt
  • Christmas was the grand scene of mumming, and some mummers were disguised as bears, others like unicorns, bringing presents.

  • She had to begin somewhere, and to play at the New Theatre was not like playing in an inn yard or mumming booth.

    Madame Flirt Charles E. Pearce
  • I know well there's mumming and foolery a-going on yonder; and I suppose ye join the merry-making, as they call it?

  • One is apt to find his deepest philosophy tucked away in some corner of a discourse on cheese or mumming or penny dreadfuls.

    Six Major Prophets Edwin Emery Slosson
  • Your talk about the right divine of old Mr. Melancholy, mumming and mimicking away there at Rome, makes me smile.

    The Yeoman Adventurer George W. Gough
  • Next to the mumming, what the Church most objected to was the divination always practised at Christmas festivals.

  • English Wat, attend me alone, and the rest of you end your revelry, and doff your mumming habits.

    The Fair Maid of Perth Sir Walter Scott
  • "But I have very often," said I to her, as I went on the stage to finish my mumming.

    Records of Later Life Frances Ann Kemble
  • Now we had planned at home that we would use only P-speech while mumming, for then no one would know us.

    What Happened to Inger Johanne Dikken Zwilgmeyer
British Dictionary definitions for mumming


(mainly Brit) an informal word for mother1
Word Origin
C19: a child's word


keeping information to oneself; silent
mum's the word, silence or secrecy is to be observed
Word Origin
C14: suggestive of closed lips


verb mums, mumming, mummed
(intransitive) to act in a mummer's play
Word Origin
C16: verbal use of mum²


(Brit, 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
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Word Origin and History for mumming



"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
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