Today is Mother\u2019s Day, the day we thank our female parents for their love and patience. But where do the words \u201cmother\u201d and \u201cmom\u201d come from? Why are there so many words for mothers in English? And are they all correct? Let\u2019s take a (motherly) look and find out.\r\nThe Origins of Mother\r\nThe modern English \u201cmother\u201d comes from the Old English term modor. And \u201cmom,\u201d along with other of informal or shortened terms such as \u201cmommy\u201d and \u201cma,\u201d are often traced to this root.\r\n\r\nInterestingly, though, these shorter words may be even older. The word \u201cmama\u201d appears in some form in dozens of languages, including Mandarin (M\u00e3ma), Hindi (m\u0101\u1e43) and Arabic (m\u0101ma). This is because simple noises like \u201cmama\u201d and \u201cpapa\u201d are among most babies\u2019 first vocalizations.\r\n\r\n[caption id="attachment_12843" align="aligncenter" width="403"] We imagine \u201cmama\u201d means \u201cfeed me\u201d most of the time.(Photo: amyelizabethquinn)[\/caption]\r\n\r\nThe theory, then, is that \u201cmother\u201d and its modern variations are all rooted in the baby talk of \u201cmama.\u201d So one thing we have in common with our earliest ancestors may be our words for \u201cmom.\u201d\r\n\u00a0Mom, Mum or Mam?\r\nIn the US, most people call their mothers \u201cmom.\u201d But you may have heard \u201cmum\u201d or \u201cmam\u201d used as well, especially in other countries. So why are there so many variations on this term?\r\n\r\nLargely, it\u2019s a matter of where you come from. The three terms we\u2019ve picked out here, for instance, are all associated with different places:\r\n\r\n \tMom is most associated with American English.\r\n \tMum is common in Australia and the UK (especially England).\r\n \tMam is common in Ireland, Wales, and parts of northern England.\r\n\r\nThese are all accepted terms for \u201cmother\u201d in one place or another, so your preference will usually depend on where you grew up. And the \u201ccorrect\u201d spelling will depend on the dialect in question. But in American English, you are usually safe sticking with \u201cmom.\u201d\r\n\r\nBut which came first? Well, \u201cmam\u201d is probably the oldest of the three spellings above, since the earliest recorded use of \u201cmama\u201d in English dates back to 1707. By comparison, the earliest appearances of \u201cmum\u201d and \u201cmom\u201d are from 1823 and 1867, respectively.\r\n\r\nWhatever your chosen term, though, we hope all the mothers out there are having a great day! And, mother or not, we hope you\u2019ve enjoyed our etymological look at motherhood.