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or mumm

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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for mumming

Historical Examples

  • This is the soul of Mumming; the ostentatious secrecy of men in disguise.

    A Miscellany of Men

    G. K. Chesterton

  • Does it mean that he was mumming, as it were, like a conjurer?

  • "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

  • She had to go back to Huddy's, to the mumming booth and the innyard.

    Madame Flirt

    Charles E. Pearce

  • People work without aim or energy, and when they suffer it seems as if they were but mumming.


    Dorothy Menpes

British Dictionary definitions for mumming


  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 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