Mum or Mom or Ma or Mam – what do you say?

Mum or Mom or Ma or Mam what name?Do my kids call me Mum or Mom? I’m a mum and a mom because I’m a dual national – British and American. So are my children…but they call me Mum. Actually most of the time they call me Mummy and sometimes my daughter enjoys addressing me as Mama.

But a British mother can also be a mom. Or a mam. Or a ma. It depends on the British region or kingdom on what spelling or pronunciation is used for the pet name.

In Birmingham and the West Midlands most say and write mom. Even the local newspapers and schools spell it as mom. Although Mother’s Day occurs on a different date in the UK, Brummies and Americans would both be sending cards to the “Best Mom.” (Mother’s day is 30 March 2014 in UK versus 11 May 2014 in USA)

Forget Mum or Mom, in northern England they usually like calling their mothers Mam. The pronunciation, of course, will vary for Mam whether you’re a Northumbrian or Geordie. This term of endearment for mother is also very common in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

In Ireland Ma is also frequently used instead of Mam.

In Wales kids would call for their Mams. After all the Welsh word for mother is mam.

Charles might be the Prince of Wales but he calls the Queen ‘Mummy.’ Listen here to Prince Charles paying tribute to Mummy.

My kids call me Mummy. Whether you’re a mom in the West Midlands or a mam in Leeds, you might also be called mommy or mammy.

“In terms of recorded usage of related words in English, mama is from 1707, mum is from 1823, mummy in this sense from 1839, mommy 1844, momma 1852, and mom 1867.” Online Etymology Dictionary

The English word mamma or mama did not make an appearance until the end of the 17th century. Then mum started being used in the 19th century. In 1823 “where’s your mum?” first showed up in literature according to the Oxford English Dictionary. Although royalty now talk about their mums, originally it was more commonly an affectionate term for working class mothers. Mothers have been called Mam since the 16th century per the MacMillan Dictionary of Historical Slang.

And do you use a capital M or lower case m whether you’re writing about a mum or mom or ma or mam? Apparently I should write about a mum but use Mum when it’s a proper noun.

I call my mother Mum, but as she’s American she signs letters and cards to me as Mommy. Mum, mom, ma, mam, mummy, mommy, mama, or mammy, no matter how you spell it or pronounce it, they’re still our mother.

Do you say mum or mom or ma or mam?

Don’t miss the Guide!

Have a look at my other posts on Mums and kids in the UK in the Guide: British Kids Lifestyle. A guide with 50 unique posts sharing views, how-tos and to-dos including differences in Mums and Moms lives – that is British and American!


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  1. My daughter calls me “Mummy” and I call my mum the same. At least to her I call her Mummy, but when talk about her I call her Mum as “Mummy” always sounded babyish to me when I was younger, and now I think it makes me sound too posh

  2. Hi Kriss! Followed you back to you blog =) I’m Filipino, currently based here in England (husband is British, my daughter also has dual citizenship) but we eventually plan to settle back in the Philippines sometime in the future. We have a strong American influence back home, so I say Mom and spell it with an “O” not “U”. Why change it just because I’m living in England? I speak and write the same way. I use the word “while” and not “whilst”. Once again, why change this right? It’s all the same anyway. All the best, Dean.

    • That’s interesting that Mom is used in Philippines. Mum is used in Australia whereas Canadians seem to either use Mom or Mum. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Interesting post! I only recently realised that people in the West Midlands said ‘mom’. My parents are originally from Warwickshire and would sometimes say ‘mam’. We are in Gloucestershire where everyone says ‘mum’ or ‘mummy’. Oh, and I use a capital letter when I’m addressing my Mum, but a lower case when I’m just talking about a mum. So I think I’ve got that right!
    Popped over from MBPW.

  4. This is an interesting one – I should be moving to the US to be with my husband at some point (I hope!) so any children we may or may not have will be born and brought up in the US. I will not mind the ‘Mum’ / ‘Mom’ difference (or at least I think I won’t) but I suppose I should get used to the difference. I am all for the ‘Mom’ though as that will be the norm.

    Thanks for your comment via the Silent Sunday post!

  5. I say Mummy to refer to myself to my children – but they insist on calling me Mamma. I call my mum ‘mother’ but that’s just because I know that she doesn’t like it!

  6. My boys call me mummy and I also call my mum. Mummy! Although when they want. Something it’s more like. “Muuuuuummy!” :–)

  7. I’m Mummy or Mum. I can’t stand my youngest son calling me Mom. Sorry. I could deal with Mammy but not Mommy. :-/ it’s a recent thing, and because of watching American tv. … Its been picked up.

  8. My 2 1/2 year old calls me mummy mostly, sometime mumma and for optimum effect she will call me ‘Jo’!

  9. Being Swedish, I’ve tried to get both my kids to call me mamma, but only my two year old uses it regularly. And I love being called mummy too, so it doesn’t really matter. I do a double take whenever my daughter tries to be smart and calls me mum though (maybe because it sounds more grown up than mummy and I’d like t=her to remain little)

  10. Very interesting post x my boys call me both Mum and Mummy….although being of mixed parentage they call their dad …Abba xxx

  11. I am Polish and my partner is Scottish so we do both Mama and Mummy but at the moment it just comes out as Maaaaaaaaaaaaah ;-)

  12. Interesting. Here in Bavaria both of mine call me either Mummy or Mama. My In laws have lived in Floriday for almost 20 years, and my brother in law still calls his Mom Mum! :)

  13. very interesting post, my guy calls me Mommy and I write it capitalized since it’s technically “my name”. I I fear the day he calls me Mom, that will be day he is grown up. I always wished me called me Mama…to me it’s very southern and respectful. No matter how big a boy/man is…Mama always seems right coming out of his mouth.

  14. Us Northern Irish are nearly all mammys. My girls call me mammy and I still call my mum mammy even though I’m in my 40s and she’s in her mid 70’s :)

  15. I’m British, originally from the West Midlands, and I’ve always called my mom “Mom”, just as she called her mom “Mom”, and so on and so on. I had one teacher (not from the Midlands…) when I was about five who used to “correct” my spelling of “mommy” to “mummy”. My mom told me to tell her that mummies wear bandages and chase Scooby Doo around. :-)

  16. I recently had this discussion with a friend from Leeds when he asked why I call my mom ‘Mom’. I am from just out side of Birmingham and all I have ever known is to call her ‘Mom’

    It’s tough to find birthday cards in the UK which do say ‘mom’ and not ‘mum’. I might suggest Clinton’s start selling regional dialect cards.

    • Quite a few don’t realise that there are lot of Moms in England! It’s pretty ridiculous to have to buy US cards with Mom on them to send to Moms in UK!

  17. In the north-east of Englan it is MAM and always will be,my husband has fallen out with his sister because she has started saying mum ever since she started going out with a Yorkshire man. We were brought up with mammy,ma and MAM and now most card shops have mum,so i make my own cards. Mothers day is this Sunday so HAPPY MAMS DAY EVERYONE IN THE UK XXX

  18. I’m from the North East so I would say Mam or Ma. My children call me mum or mummy because we live in Northern Ireland and everyone over here seems to say mum/ mummy, or they do in this part of N.I at least.
    I prefer Mam though, and wish the kids called me Mam but I didn’t want them to sound too out of place.

  19. You’re absolutely correct in saying that British Mother’s are not all Mums.

    In the West Midlands of England you will very likely here Mom used by the locals.

    Up North is mainly Mam. I have family up in the North of England who say “Me Mam”… So cute!
    (Sadly though some have switched over to Mum) : (

    Obviously I’m partial to Mom, and am called Mom by my kids, as I have a long line of family history from the West Midlands. It’s where I grew up, part of who I am!

    Mum is used down in the South of England, and to be honest it wouldn’t work for me. (Sounds a bit overly pronounced and harsh in the midland accent)

    We do make our own sentimental cards for these “Mommy” occasions. The kids really love that!

    The English language in Britain is quite broad due to the many different dialects; which in turn results in differences amongst other words too.

  20. TurningLeaves reply:

    I always call my mum ‘Mumma’ because she sort of taught me to say it. I suppose it’s a mixture of ‘Mamma’ and ‘Mummy’. My mum’s Australian, so that’s probably where it came from. A few times she’s asked me why I don’t switch to something more grown up, but I’ve already put up with enough name changes in my family and I don’t need another one! CX


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