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I'm sure I've heard tummy used in American English and the English spoken in commonwealth countries as a sort of euphemism for stomach. I'm not sure so much how common it is to hear it reduced to tum, as in "I ate the pie and now it's in my tum!"

Would that be universally understood in English? How about if I made a construction like tumcandy - would that work in all countries?

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  • In AE, the use of "tummy" is fairly common, but usually when an adult is speaking to a child, as in, "So, sweetie, your tummy hurts?" or "So, sweetie, do you have a tummy ache?" One adult to another would likely ask, "So, you have a stomach ache?" unless he wanted to give the impression of talking down to, or condescending to, another adult. A doctor would likely say, "So, you have an ache in your belly [or abdomen]?" As for "tum," an adult in speaking to a child might use the even cuter expression "tum tum," meaning tummy/stomach/belly. Oct 30, 2014 at 17:05
  • ...(to extend @rhetorician's thought) but, no, 'tumcandy' wouldn't really 'work' in the US. It's obviously candy, but what kind? The stomach doesn't really come up because it wouldn't make sense.
    – Mitch
    Oct 30, 2014 at 17:20
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    I've never heard the word tum by itself, except for Tums, the brand name of an antacid.
    – Barmar
    Oct 30, 2014 at 17:30
  • Children have tummies (rarely, tums). Adults have bellies. Oct 30, 2014 at 17:55
  • Tum is quite common in the UK and you can even call it a 'tum-tum' if you are talking to a child or just being facetious.
    – Joe Dark
    Oct 30, 2014 at 18:13

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Using the search engine of the NY Times found no examples of the word 'tum' being used as an abbreviation for stomach, though plenty for 'tummy' used in that sense.

In Britain, exercises to tone abs and thigh muscles are often known as 'bums and tums' workouts, but googling the term gets hits that are overwhelmingly UK (one Irish). So I would think 'tum' is rarely used outside British English.

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  • Yes I just checked the Washington Post which has nothing either, where as in the Daily Mail you can read "A brief encounter: Model Bar Refaeli displays taut tum in black bra and iconic Calvin Klein underwear" Oct 30, 2014 at 18:44

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