No, the origin of the phrase has nothing to perform with a parent, or an ancient Egyptian covering in bandages

You are watching: What does mums the word mean

The ‘mum’ of the expression refers to the humming sound made with a closeup of the door mouth, representing an inability or unwillingness come speak. Together a word, it deserve to be composed as ‘hum’ or ‘mmm’, and also it has a long background in the English language, date all the way back come the influential Middle English poem Piers Plowman, written by william Langland in the 14th century.

To gain from Piers Plowman to our modern-day English phrase, we need to go via the old English legacy of mummers’ plays. Over there aren’t any type of remaining texts of mumming, yet they would have actually been a boisterous mix of panto, dancing and carol singing, performed by a bizarre cast of costumed characters. In early on mumming, the cast would run or play games in quiet – i beg your pardon is where we get ‘miming’ from – and also began come popularise the idea that ‘mum’ being connected to maintaining quiet.

The yes, really phrase, however, no come indigenous mummers however was possibly first used, in some form, in john Palsgrave’s 1540 translation of a Latin text. He supplied the expression ‘mum is counsel’ In his work, The Comedye of Acolastus, he supplied the similar expression, ‘mum is counsel’:

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

So following time someone’s mystified about why ‘mum’s the word’, girlfriend won’t have to keep quiet about the explanation.

This write-up was taken indigenous BBC history Revealed magazine



through entering her details, you are agreeing to terms and conditions and privacy policy. You deserve to unsubscribe at any time.


See more: Who Is Bruno Mars Related To Erik Estrada, Erik Estrada On Twitter: Bruno Mars