Etymology
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mum (interj.)

"be silent," 1560s, from a verb mum (Middle English mommen) "make silent" (c. 1400); "be silent" (mid-15c.), from mum, mom (late 14c.), "an inarticulate closed-mouth sound" indicative of unwillingness or inability to speak, probably imitative. As an adjective meaning "secret" or "silent" from 1520s. Phrase mum's the word is recorded by 1704.

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mum (n.1)

abbreviation of chrysanthemum, by 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 or ma'am.

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mummer (n.)

"one who performs in a mumming, actor in a dumb show," early 15c., probably a fusion of Old French momeur "mummer" (from Old French momer "mask oneself," from momon "mask") and Middle English mommen "to mutter, be silent," which is the source of mum (interjection). "[S]pecifically, in England, one of a company of persons who go from house to house at Christmas performing a kind of play, the subject being generally St. George and the Dragon, with sundry whimsical adjuncts" [Century Dictionary].

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mumps (n.)

type of contagious disease characterized by inflammation of the glands, c. 1600, from plural of mump "a grimace" (1590s), originally a verb, "to whine or mutter like a beggar" (1580s), from Dutch mompen "to cheat, deceive," originally probably "to mumble, whine" and of imitative origin (compare mum (interj.), mumble). The infectious disease probably was so called in reference to swelling of the salivary glands of the face and/or to painful difficulty swallowing. Mumps also was used from 17c. to mean "a fit of melancholy, sullenness, silent displeasure."

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mumble (v.)

early 14c., momelen, "to eat in a slow, ineffective manner" (perhaps "to talk with one's mouth full"), probably frequentative of the interjection mum. The -b- is from 15c., unetymological. Meaning "to speak indistinctly in low tones" is from mid-14c. Transitive sense of "to utter in a low, inarticulate voice" is from mid-15c. Related: Mumbled; mumbler; mumbling.

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mummy (n.1)

late 14c., mummie, "medicinal substance prepared from mummy tissue," from Medieval Latin mumia, from Arabic mumiyah "embalmed body," from Persian mumiya "asphalt," from mum "wax." Sense of "dead human body embalmed and dried after the manner of the ancient Egyptians" is recorded in English from 1610s. Mummy wheat (1842), grown in Egypt and Ethiopia and once thought to be a distinct species, was said to have been cultivated from grains found in mummy-cases.

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mummy (n.2)

1784, a childish alteration of mammy. Alternative form mumsy attested by 1876.

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mummify (v.)

1620s, "embalm and dry (a dead body) as a mummy," from French momifier, from momie "mummy," from Medieval Latin mumia (see mummy) + -fier "to make into" (see -fy). Intransitive sense "shrivel or dry up" is by 1864. Related: Mummified; mummifying.

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Mummerset (n.)

"imaginary west-of-England country dialect used on stage," by 1925, from mummer + Somerset.

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