Catch Word #37 – Mum’s the word

If you want to tell someone to keep something a secret or promise to keep a secret for someone else you can use this expression: mum’s the word. At first it seems like a strange expression…mum is the word? Weird. But you will see it is not so complicated when we explain the possible origin of this expression and the meaning of mum.


Expressions included in the learning materialstellasecret

  • Mum’s the word
  • Shakespeare
  • Nothing to do with
  • Mum/mom
  • To throw a party
  • My lips are sealed
  • To keep it on the down low
  • To keep your mouth shut
  • To feel free to …

Sample transcript

Jessie: The reason we say mum’s the word when we say don’t tell anyone my secret is because if you close your mouth and you’re keeping a secret, imagine how you would sound if you were trying to talk while you’re closing your mouth,
Maura: Mmmm mum mmm.
Jessie: Right. If your lips are closed you can’t make any words, all you can make is a kind of mmmum sound.
Maura: Right ,exactly. So you can’t tell the secret because your mouth is closed.
Jessie: And they think that the first time that was ever used was in a Shakespeare play.
Maura: Oh really?
Jessie: Yeah they said, “Seal up your lips and give no words but mum.”


english PodcastAudio/Learning Materials: Culips