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Texas Speak: What’s a “mominem?”

“There” and “their” are homonyms, two words with different meanings that sound the same.  Some of us write using a made up or different name, a pseudonym.  What in the world is a “mominem?”  

Texas is a place where “family values” means close to what it used to mean.  While we accept and acknowledge with hospitality those whose family doesn’t fit the traditional mold, there’s a valid stereotype that the traditional “mom, dad, and some kids” nuclear family is kind of a Texas thing.  While many families function just fine in other forms, in Texas more than some places there’s an unspoken expectation that your family fits the traditional pattern.

This particular type of family value gives rise to a certain matriarchal respect.  In my family, I don’t go visit Uncle Mike, I go to Aunt Pat’s even though it’s the same house.  I don’t go to PaPaw’s house, I go to Meemaw’s house even though they have lived in the same house for the 50+ years of their marriage.  

We also tend to prefer the rest of the folks that congregate at the matriarchal home, the brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins.  For many of us a “family reunion” is a regular old Saturday evening, or at least we fondly remember those times.  

Here’s a throwback picture of the author and his mominem.

And so if you want to be precise when inquiring about the status of the family, you might ask “How are Nelda and Jesse?  Are Mike and Pat good?  What about Justin, Emily, and Jess?”  Honestly that’s just too much to ask, especially if you saw them all last week.  And so in true Texas verbal efficiency, there’s a short little word to describe the whole family, “mominem.”  It effectively replaces the whole list of names by the open-ended “mom and them.”  

The conversation goes like this:

“How’s your mominem?”

“Well, Meemaw’s doing good, got her hair done yesterday.  Uncle Mike ended up chasing some cows that got out this morning, and Pat helped by driving behind him in the truck.  Jess has a football game this Friday.”

It’s worth noting that there’s no “dadinem” that I’m aware of.  This one’s reserved for the matriarch. 

I remember well the days of my youth when we all hung out together as a family with my dad’s mominem.  I hope the Texas of the future retains that spirit, even if a bunch of us are now from other places and our families don’t look the same as they used to.  If your experience was different, y’all can hang out with me and my mominem. You might find we’re a good group of hospitable folks.

The Texian Partisan celebrates Texas culture, including our distinctive language.  Noah Smithwick is a 6th generation Texan from the hill country.

Written By

Noah is the Acting Editor of the Texian Partisan. He has written for the Texian Partisan, the Texas Nationalist Movement, and several other large-circulation publications and sites. Named for an early Texas settler and veteran of the Texas Revolution, Noah pours his passion for Texas independence into his writing. He is a 6th generation Texan from the Hill Country.

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