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Mither (Word Wednesday) – Number 1 Awesome Brit Word

The usual starting point of Merriam-Webster has let me down this week. It has an entry for ‘mither’ but bangs on about it being Scottish for mother or something like that. Wrong!

So that means we go to a new source – the Oxford Dictionaries, another American English online resource. And it is spot on:

Definition of mither in English:

Pronunciation: /ˈmʌɪðə/
Entry from British & World English dictionary


dialect, chiefly Northern English
1 Make a fuss; moan:
oh men—don’t they mither?

1.1 Pester or irritate (someone):
More example sentences

the pile of bills would mither her whenever she felt good

What I cannot deal with is mithering colleagues who constantly bombard you with their insane comments or ways of working.
He’s like a sulky teenager if you try to shift him before 6.20 am during the week, but if you’re not out of bed and getting his breakfast by 6.30 at the weekend, he comes mithering me to get up.
I really want to ring Helena, but I feel as though I have been mithering her too much recently.


Late 17th century: of unknown origin; compare with Welsh moedrodd ‘to worry, bother’.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: mi¦ther

The word cropped up in an English courtroom too:

Steven Gerrard, a well-known professional footballer, ex of Liverpool and now plying his trade for LA Galaxy,  told the court he had suffered “a lot of mither” during his career as a professional footballer, meaning he is frequently bothered by others.

No doubt public school educated barristers and the judge were forced to consult their dictionaries!

Credit and kudos to Tony Bushell, another expat in Bacolod, for suggesting this word to me. Tony’s fine blog can be found at “anorthernsoulweb.” It’s a play on words. He loves his northern soul music and is from the North of England – “a northern soul.” Clever, huh?


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  1. Tony Bushell Tony Bushell

    That word followed me around during my childhood years. Countless times i was told to “stop mithering” when i was constantly asking Mum if i could go to the pictures or anything where i wouldn’t take no for an answer. I overheard someone telling their child that in a supermarket and i had to ask from where in the UK they had come from. They told me they are on holiday from St Helens – just a stones throw from where i was brought up. I mentioned that i was surprised to hear that phrase these days and she just laughed and told me that it is still very common there. Perhaps if I still lived in that area i would still be uttering those phrases. It is a word that still makes me smile when I remember Mum or Dad directing it to myself or my brothers.

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