Origins #7: Why is mum the word?


Everyone knows that ‘mum’s the word’ means to keep quiet and say nothing. But what or who is mum?

Mum; not mother but ‘mmmmm’, the humming sound made with a closed mouth.

Used by Shakespeare in Henry VI, Part 2, 1592:

“Seal up your lips and give no words but mum.”

Courtesy of this website.

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