Several months ago, a friend posted on Facebook a photo of his wife and son, with the message, “This guy … turned 26 yesterday with his beautiful mum by his side.”
What caught my attention, of course, was “mum.” That’s the equivalent in Britain and Commonwealth countries for Americans’ “mom,” as seen in this headline from a Scottish newspaper:
On Mothers’ Day, in May, I noticed a few more American “mums” on social media. Then, less than a week later, the Royal Wedding happened, and I believe I saw some references to Meghan Markle’s “mum,” though I can’t locate them now.
It was a little hard to research it further, in part because “mum” is also a common word for silent, as well as a short form of chrysanthemum. I eventually discovered that on Twitter platform Tweet Deck, I could create a column for tweets containing “mum” that were posted within a 100 kilometer radius of New York City. Who knew?
This has proved to be a gold mine, with an average of a dozen or so hits a day. For example:
From what I can tell, the American “mum” users tend to be female and on the young side. And the usage doesn’t seem to have extended to published sources. I would appreciate any additional observations on the matter.