Difference between “mum” and “mom” in English

by Jakub Marian

Tip: See my list of the Most Common Mistakes in English. It will teach you how to avoid mis­takes with com­mas, pre­pos­i­tions, ir­reg­u­lar verbs, and much more (PDF Version).

The difference between “mum” and “mom” is the same as the one between “colour” and “color”the former is used predominantly in British English and the latter in American English.

However, just like with “colour”, there is not only a difference in spelling but also a difference in pronunciation. Americans pronounce “mom” as /mɑːm/ (with the same vowel as in “father”), while the British pronounce “mum” as /mʌm/ (with the same vowel as in the word “but”).

There are also a handful of British dialects in which the word “mom” (not “mum”) is used, pronounced /mɒm/ (with a short “o” sound). It is worth noting that “mom” has started to appear more regularly in British literature, at least if the Google Ngram Viewer for British English is to be believed (the following diagram shows the relative frequency of the words “mum” and “mom” in British literature):

Prevalence of “mum” and “mom” in British literature.

By the way, if you haven’t read my guide on how to avoid the most common mistakes in English, make sure to check it out; it deals with similar topics.

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