Saturday, August 30, 2008

The mother of all storms

So now Mayor Ray Nagin has ordered an evacuation of New Orleans New Orleans, saying "I must tell you, this is the mother of all storms."

I think about this phrase, "the mother of all ___" every now and then, because my memory is that Saddam Hussein introduced this phrase into English before the Gulf War in 1991 when he threatened that if the U.S. coalition attacked Iraq, it would be the "mother of all wars." It's interesting that the phrase has been so naturalized into English that it can be used for anything really big. I wonder how many people who use the phrase remember its origin.

1 comment:

  1. I just found your posting as I was searching for confirmation of my idea of this phrase's origin. I also believe that it originated with Saddam Hussein, at least, as far as the Western world is concerned. I usually mention it every semester to my senior business students, none of whom have ever had any notion that there was a time when we didn't use that phrase. It certainly had a certain ring to it -- not to mention the number of times we heard it replayed by the media!