13

Mmm, this cake is delicious.

Does this sound have a name, or does it belong to a category of sounds that has one?

Is there a verb that means "to say Mmm"?

I'm searching for either a word or phrase that doesn't include actually writing "Mmm".

  • 1
    This is an opinion (hence, the comment instead of answer), but IMO, "Mmm" is a kind of closed-lip moan that can be used to indicate something's yummy, or to fill space when trying to answer a question or an ambiguous non-committal sound when you're not quite sure what to say or if you don't want to say anything but acknowledge the other person with an audible response. – Kristina Lopez Oct 13 '15 at 16:16
  • 1
    @KristinaLopez - I like it! I'm trying to work out how to turn that into a shorter phrase. How about "the yummy moan" or "the yummy moan of delight"? – AndyT Oct 14 '15 at 8:37
  • 2
  • And the next question is: Name for 'hmm' sound – ermanen Oct 14 '15 at 16:14
  • @ermanen In the vein of the top voted answer, "Thinking Sound", of course... – JPhi1618 Oct 14 '15 at 18:06
1

Well it depends on the kind of mmm we would be talking about, but I call at least some of these sound a murmur.

a : a low indistinct but often continuous sound

b : a soft or gentle utterance

(The on-line Merriam-Webster)

21

The Mmmm syllable can be several syllables, with many conventional meanings,
like MMM-mmm or mmm-MMM, which can respectively be 'no' and 'yes' in many contexts.

It's described phonetically as a syllabic voiced bilabial nasal continuant;
in IPA it's [ṃ] (Unicode 1643; UTF8 E1 89 83; Latin small letter M with dot below).
Similar to the [ṇ] as in certain /'sərtṇ/, which is a syllabic voiced alveolar nasal continuant.

If you turn off the voicing at some point, you can put an /h/ sound anywhere, like MMM-hmmm; this can be done without moving the tongue, since voicing is controlled through the larynx and uses no other musculature.

The one that means "this is delicious" would be classified as an interjection,
or as a conversational particle, like uh-huh, Really? and the like.

  • 1
    +1, though the IPA is [m̩] (with U+0329 combining vertical line below), not [ṃ] with a dot. As far as I know, a dot below has no meaning in IPA and is—again, as far as I know—only really used in transcribing Sanskrit and certain other Indo-Aryan languages, and as a fallback variant of (m with cedilla) used in Marshallese. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Oct 13 '15 at 17:57
20

In the 1974 Mel Brooks film, Young Frankenstein, there is a famous scene where this is referred to as the "Yummy Sound." Maybe not an authoritative source, but entertaining nonetheless.

  • Yummy Sound is what I thought immediately, but I didn't l know where I got it from. The film was probably it. Thanks! – JPhi1618 Oct 13 '15 at 21:00
  • I don't know if this is an Americanism, but when imitation voracious eating, people will make the sound "ahm" or "ahm nom nom". Perhaps "mm" is derived from that imitation of eating. – user1359 Oct 16 '15 at 13:20
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Mmm, this cake is delicious.

Mmm is an interjection, formed by means of onomatopoeia:

  1. the formation of a word, as cuckoo, meow, honk, or boom, by imitation of a sound made by or associated with its referent.

  2. a word so formed.

  • 2
    I'm curious...what is the referent for "mmmm"? (So far, though, I think "interjection" is the best answer for this question!) – Kristina Lopez Oct 13 '15 at 16:22
  • To be more specific, mm is an expressive interjection for satisfaction (in OP's example). It can express other things as well depending on the context. – ermanen Oct 13 '15 at 16:37
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    Mmm isn’t really onomatopoeia, as @Kristina indirectly points out. Onomatopoeia is imitation, more specifically mimicking, and mmm doesn’t really mimick anything. It is some variant of sound symbolism, perhaps best a subtype of ideophones, but I’m not aware of a specific name for cases like this. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Oct 13 '15 at 18:00
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    It is listed as onomatopoeia, though, and in multiple sources, too, including here: en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Category:English_onomatopoeias Maybe the reasoning is it imitates the noise of delicious food being eaten. Your mouth is full, you're eating, air goes through your nose, hence the 'mmm'. – A.P. Oct 13 '15 at 18:23
5

Are you looking for humming?

To hum:

  • To emit a continuous low droning sound like that of the speech sound (m) when prolonged.

The Free Dictionary

  • Perhaps @GregRos could hum his approval? – crw Oct 14 '15 at 8:40
2

The ODO categorise words like mmm, um, hmmm and er as exclamations.

Obviously, exclamation is a broader term than just the above, and includes words like hooray and howzat.

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/mm?q=mmm#mm-2

0

I have heard this sound referred to as "The 60 htz Smile" when looking at someone attractive. (I believe in the book for "Hackers")

0

It's called campbelling or campbell souping, from their famous slogan:

M'm! M'm! Good!

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