Mum’s the word: idioms about mothers and other mumsy facts

Idioms about mothersSeeing as it’s Mother’s Day today here in the UK – I know that other parts of the world celebrate it at different times of the year – I thought I’d dedicate my latest blog post to language-related facts, trivia and idioms about mothers.

Synonyms for ‘mum’

A quick search has thrown up 16 different words in English for ‘mum’; some of these are rather out-dated, however, while others such as ‘mom’ are used mainly in America.

Ma

Mam

Mama

Mamma

Mammy

Mater

Materfamilias

Matriarch

Matron

Mom

Momma

Mommy

Mother

Mum

Mummy

Mumsy

Being ‘mum’ in other languages

Collins Dictionary reveals that most countries in Europe have a similar sounding word for ‘mother’:

Croatian: mama

Czech: máma

Danish: mor

Dutch: mam

Finnish: äiti

French: maman

German: Mutti

Italian: mamma

Norwegian: mamma

Polish: mama

Portuguese: mama

Romanian: mami

Russian: мама

Spanish: mamá

Swedish: mamma

Ukrainian: мама

Idioms about mothers

Keep mum means to keep something a secret, while Mum’s the word is used as a request, command or warning to remain silent so as not to reveal a secret.

As is the case with most idioms, the word mum used in these expressions has nothing to do with mothers. Instead, it stands for an inarticulate sound made with closed lips – indicating either unwillingness or inability to speak.

Other sayings and idioms about mothers include:

A face that only a mother could love = used to describe someone who’s not been blessed in the looks department

A mother hen = a woman who’s protective and caring for those she loves

A mummy’s boy = a boy or man who allows his mother to have too much influence on him

At your mother’s knee = said about something you learnt to do as a young child

Experience is the mother of wisdom = people learn from what happens to them

Failure is the mother of success = failure is often a stepping-stone towards success

Like mother, like daughter = when daughters resemble their mothers in appearance or habits

Mother Nature = the force that controls the weather and all living things

Necessity is the mother of all invention = if you really want to do something, you’ll think of a way to do it

Shall I be mother? = a humorous way to ask if the speaker should serve food or drink; mostly associated with pouring tea

The mother of all something = an extreme example of something, e.g. a headache

Tied to your mother’s apron strings = someone, usually a man, who can’t think or act independently of their mother

Mother-related phobias

To round off this post in honour of Mother’s Day, here are some phobias you might not be aware of:

Metrophobia is the fear of motherhood

Pentheraphobia is the fear of your mother-in-law

Tokophobia is the fear of pregnancy or childbirth

So, on that jolly note, may I end off by wishing mums everywhere a very Happy Mother’s Day!

(image courtesy of Stuart Miles via Freedigitalphotos.net)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Tagged with: , , ,

Have your say