Cambridge University Press and Lancaster University have looked at how we describe our family members now compared to the data from the 1990s.

The gap between mum and dad has closed considerably, to the extent dad is almost equally as popular as mum. However the word Mother is also consistently spoken more than the male equivalent. It certainly seems the case that the maternal role of the family is more often a point of discussion in informal settings than the paternal role. Yet, the closing of the gap between mum and dad in our data so far suggests that perhaps the role of dads in the family setting is becoming more common over time.

Brother is spoken more often than sister, and son more often than daughter, in both the 1990s and 2010s data.

Look at the table below to see how the words we use to describe our families have changed:

Rank Early 1990s Per Million Early 2010s Per Million
1 mum 993 mum 475
2 dad 624 dad 449
3 mummy 405 brother 116
4 daddy 268 sister 106
5 mother 244 mother 79
6 father 121 son 53
7 brother 107 grand(d)ad 50
8 sister 103 daughter 44
9 son 86 father 43
10 aunty/auntie 70 uncle 32

List of the top ten most frequently spoken family terms in each period.

 

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Cambridge University Press