Main definitions of mum in English

: mum1mum2mum3mum4

mum1

Pronunciation /məm/

noun

informal British
  • One's mother.

    ‘she often goes round to see her mum, who lives nearby’
    as name ‘Jane worried all the way home about telling Mum’

Origin

Mid 17th century abbreviation of mummy. Compare with mom.

Pronunciation

mum

/məm/

Main definitions of mum in English

: mum1mum2mum3mum4

mum2

Pronunciation /məm/

adjective

  • Silent.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘However, his doctors are still remaining mum on his condition until the complete tests take place later this week.’
    • ‘We didn't really see much reason for it, but we remained mum all the same.’
    • ‘He was mum as to whether the carrier plans to turn it on in the future.’
    • ‘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.’
    silent, quiet, mute, dumb, tight-lipped, close-mouthed, uncommunicative, unforthcoming, reticent, secretive
    View synonyms

Phrases

    mum's the word
    informal
    • (as a request or warning) say nothing; don't reveal a secret.

      ‘I know I can rely upon your discretion, mum's the word’
      • ‘Go out and have some fun, but remember, 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He also said not to mention that I was paid to write an update for him, so mum's the word.’
    keep mum
    informal
    • Remain silent, especially so as not to reveal a secret.

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

Origin

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

Pronunciation

mum

/məm/

Main definitions of mum in English

: mum1mum2mum3mum4

mum3

Pronunciation /məm/

noun

informal
  • A cultivated chrysanthemum.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Autumn's butterflies - fritillaries and migrating monarchs - match the burnt-orange mums just beginning to bloom.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Autumn-colored mums, pink carnations and fucshia orchids lining the streets.’
    • ‘The flower lady buffed the bouquet out with orchids, mums, other fragrant weird blooms I don't know the names of, and various greens.’
    • ‘Pumpkins, bales of hay, mums in colors that mimic the trees, a few scarecrows and a wooden black cat complete the package.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The deep green fine-textured foliage of mums is remarkably aromatic, lending a distinctive ambience to the containers in which they are planted.’
    • ‘Garden mums give us a burst of color in the fall when used to replace the annuals we have enjoyed since spring.’
    • ‘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.’

Origin

Late 19th century abbreviation.

Pronunciation

mum

/məm/

Main definitions of mum in English

: mum1mum2mum3mum4

mum4

Pronunciation /məm/

intransitive verbmums, mumming, mummed

[no object]
  • Act in a traditional masked mime or a mummers' play.

    ‘after they had masked and mummed, away they went’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 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 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The mummers wore oversized, wire-constructed costumes and carried little umbrellas as they mummed along.’
    • ‘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.’

Origin

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

Pronunciation

mum

/məm/