Sunday, 20 March 2022


Gave a talk a couple of months ago, a look at some of the more amusing etymologies. As always I gave the audience the opportunity to ask questions at the end, which resulted in this piece.

In all honesty I didn't know the answer to the question when it was asked. But some of you will understand when I say if I'm asked a question it will not stop coming back to mind until such time as I've answered it. I did forget for a couple of days but eventually the recurring memory forced me to answer the query.

The question was asked by a lady who, being of Welsh origin, indeed a Welsh speaker, could never understand why her husband, he born and bred in Lancashire, used the verb 'to mither' - as in 'Stop mithering me, woman!' Incidentally, just to increase the confusion further, this question was asked in Surrey, where very few of the others had heard of the term either. Indeed, it seems 'mither' is a word mostly used in the Midlands and the North of England.

I looked, and while the origins are not overly certain, the word first appears in the late 17th or early 18th century. It is thought to be derived from moedrodd meaning 'to worry, bother'. The irony here being that moedrodd is a Welsh word, the same language as the lady accused of the 'mithering' stated was her native language. I did email the answer to the group and they responded and copied in the husband and wife so they could see the answer.

As of today I have not had an answer. Perhaps they thought I was mithering? Oh, and the drink below is a cocktail known as a 'mithering bastard'.

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