No, the beginning of the phrase has nothing to carry out with a parent, or an ancient Egyptian sheathe in bandages




You are watching: What does mums the word mean


The ‘mum’ the the expression refers to the humming sound made v a closeup of the door mouth, representing an inability or unwillingness to speak. Together a word, it can be written as ‘hum’ or ‘mmm’, and it has actually a long history in the English language, dating all the means back to the prominent Middle English poem Piers Plowman, written by william Langland in the 14th century.


To get from Piers Plowman come our contemporary English phrase, we have to go via the old English tradition of mummers’ plays. Over there aren’t any kind of remaining texts of mumming, yet they would have been a boisterous blend of panto, dancing and carol singing, carry out by a bizarre cast of costumed characters. In beforehand mumming, the cast would run or play games in silence – i beg your pardon is whereby we obtain ‘miming’ indigenous – and began come popularise the idea the ‘mum’ being connected to keeping quiet.


The really phrase, however, no come native mummers however was possibly an initial used, in some form, in man Palsgrave’s 1540 translate in of a Latin text. He used the expression ‘mum is counsel’ In his work, The Comedye that Acolastus, he provided the comparable expression, ‘mum is counsel’:


Inevitably, any phrase v a Tudor origin is walking to show up in Shakespeare. The phrase gotten in the vernacular thanks in no small component to Henry VI, component 2 and also the line: “Seal up her lips and also give no words yet mum.”


So following time someone’s mystified around why ‘mum’s the word’, you won’t need to keep quiet around the explanation.

This post was taken indigenous BBC background Revealed magazine


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