The mother of all

The mother of all... has become a stock phrase in English-language public discourse and popular culture since the 1991 Gulf War. The phrase was popularised in January 1991 when the President of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, promised in a speech "the mother of all battles" if the US-led coalition forces attempted to evict his army of occupation from Kuwait. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/january/17/newsid_2530000/2530375.stm] The phrase "mother of all battles" is a translation of the Arabic expression "Um al-Mar'rik". This is a common trope in Arabic public rhetoric. As Saddam's audience would have understood, it refers to the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah in AD 637, when an Arab army defeated the Persians. [http://www.word.com/collegiate/archives/2006/05/may_is_the_moth.html]

Since 1991 the expression "the mother of all" has spread widely through English-language media and culture. In September 2008, Google recalled 1.8 million uses of the expression. [http://www.google.com.au/search?hl=en&q=%22the+mother+of+all%22&meta=] . It continues to be widely used: Time magazine headed its story on the 2008 financial crisis "Washington Prepares the Mother of All Bailouts". [http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1842706,00.html] In the same context the Wall Street Journal referred to "The Mother of All Mondays". [http://blogs.wsj.com/marketbeat/2008/09/14/the-mother-of-all-mondays/]

References


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