Trivia Teaser

Which word means 'come to pass'?


Mums the Word!


By Christine Lovatt

Oscar Wilde had an interesting view of mothers. He wrote “All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his.”  He obviously felt that women were too much like their mothers, and men were not enough like them.

With Mother's Day falling on Sunday, I thought I'd scour the Internet to find out what they call mother around the world.

With few exceptions, all words meaning mother start with 'm', for example madre (Spanish), moeder (Dutch), mor (Norwegian), mama (Swahili), mae (Portuguese), mathair (Irish), modryb (Welsh) and mere (French).

This is probably because 'mm' is the first sound a baby makes when trying to imitate speech. And the only thing a baby wants is Mum.

 The word mother has also come to mean something that creates, nurtures or protects, such as mother earth, mother church or mother nature.

Germany's one of the few countries referred to by its natives as the fatherland. Most people call their land of origin the motherland.

Mothers are also keeping up with technology – the main circuitboard in a computer is called a motherboard, (and not a committee of school mums.)

Mothers are universally loved and respected. But what about stepmothers? With blended families on the rise, step-relatives have become more common.

Stepmothers have fairytales such as Snow White, Hansel and Gretel and Cinderella to blame for their wicked reputations, deserved only by a minority.

It's surprising that a word  meaning stepmother hasn't evolved  which is more family-friendly, as it has in quite a few other languages.

And what about the expression to keep mum meaning not to mention something. Is this referring to a mother's ability to keep a secret? Alas, it's more likely to come from mummers, masked performers who mimed silently.

As one of my sons pointed out, if a whaler is a person who catches whales, what's a person who catches moths? A mother? Don't worry, I'll make him my slave on Mother's Day, he'll be too busy to make any more puns. Luckily, he can understand his 'mother tongue'.

Happy puzzling!


0 Responses to

Mums the Word!

There are currently no comments for this entry.
Be the first to comment by filling in the form below.