24th December 1545. Mumpsimus and Sumpsimus.

Mumpsimus is a stubborn insistence on incorrect usage of a word and is said to refer to a medieval monk in the Latin Eucharist, so instead of ‘quod in ore sumpsimus’ ( which we have taken into mouth) he insisted on using the word ‘mumpsimus’.

It appears that the monk repeatedly said the incorrect word for 40 years and insisted: ‘I will not change my old mumpsimus for your new sumpsimus’. It has remained an academic joke for hundreds of years.

Mumpsimus is an action by a person who adheres to a routine idea, custom, set of beliefs which are unreasonable or incorrect. A typical example is the substitution of, ‘to all intensive purposes’, for, ‘to all intents and purposes’.

In allusion to the story it first occurs in a letter from Erasmus to Henry Bullock in August 1516, and Erasmus used it as an analogy to those who refused to accept his Novum Instrumentum Omne, his edition of the Greek New Testament correcting errors in the Latin Vulgate.


Today in 1545 Henry VIII gave a speech to Parliament when he quoted the phrase ‘mumpsimus and sumpsimus’.


King henry VIII

King Henry VIII in Parliament.

It famously appeared in what might be considered the first Christmas message when Henry according to the Chronicler Edward Hall, said that Henry was concerned at the breakdown of fraternal love: [to quote]: ‘The one called the other Hereticke and Anabaptist, and he calleth hym again Papaist, Ypocrite and Pharisey…some be styff in their old mumpsimus other be to busy and curious in their newe sumpsimus’.


luminarium/Pic of parliament.



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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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