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mum1

[muhm]
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adjective
  1. silent; not saying a word: to keep mum.
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interjection
  1. say nothing! be silent!
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Idioms
  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.
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Origin of mum1

1350–1400; Middle English momme; imitative
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for mum's the word

mum1

noun
  1. mainly British an informal word for mother 1
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Word Origin

C19: a child's word

mum2

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

C14: suggestive of closed lips

mum3

mumm

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

C16: verbal use of mum ²

mum4

noun
  1. British obsolete a type of beer made from cereals, beans, etc
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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's the word

mum

interj.

"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.

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mum

n.1

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

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mum

n.2

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with mum's the word

mum's the word

Say nothing about this, it's a secret, as in Mum's the word on tonight's surprise party. This expression dates from about 1700, but mum, meaning “silence,” is much older. In 2 Henry VI (1:2) Shakespeare wrote, “Seal up your lips, and give no words but mum.”

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.