I was kind of dismayed last week when the news outlets reported the dropping of "the so-called 'Mother of All Bombs'." They were quick to point out the official name was "Massive Ordinance Air Blast," but that almost seems like an acronym some pencil-pusher came up with after it was already unofficially called the Mother of All Bombs. It's just a terrible nickname for such a frightening weapon. (It put me in mind of "Big Bertha" -- what is it with big bombs being female?)

Anyway, I read an article somewhere saying that the phrase "Mother of all __" became wildly popular after Saddam Hussein used the phrase "mother of all battles" in a speech he gave in the 90's (referring to his war vs. the United States), and that he probably got the phrase from its usage in the Quran. So I tried to google "quran mother of all" but did not come up with any results. Does anyone know if this phrase is actually used in the Quran, and if there were any other significant usages in the 90's?

I can think of similar usages with "daddy" and especially "grandaddy" -- but not "grandmommy" or "grandmother."

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    @Cascabel,@Ringo, It seems this question is different: what is it with big bombs being female?; Does anyone know if this phrase is actually used in the Quran? etc. – mahmud k pukayoor Apr 23 '17 at 1:04
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this question belongs on islam.stackexchange.com – Hot Licks Apr 23 '17 at 2:27
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    Not to be overly politically correct here, but if the phrase is used often in English, doesn't it belong here regardless of where it comes from? – user83454 Apr 23 '17 at 3:18
  • I'm not sure I could get an answer for why historical bombs have been given female identities. It could just be a coincidence. It seems like a question for the history or sociology groups. – user83454 Apr 23 '17 at 3:26
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    BTW, "Big Bertha" was a howitzer, not a bomb, and the 2 largest bombs ever dropped by the US were named "Fat Man" and "Little Boy". – Cascabel Apr 23 '17 at 5:10

The term "mother of all..." can be found in Hadith (words, deeds and permissions by Prophet Muhammad) and it may mean as the source of, though not as the biggest of something.

One day, as he came out from his mosque, the Prophet Muhammad, may God send praises upon him, noticed his cousin and son-in-law, Ali b. Abi Talib, visibly upset. When the concerned Prophet asked Ali what was troubling him, Ali simply pointed to the bloody carcass of his dearly cherished camel - no ordinary camel, but the war-weathered camel that Ali would mount in his valiant defense of the Prophet and Islam on the battlefield. Ali told the Prophet that one of their uncles had been responsible for the unsanctioned slaughter of his animal, and so the Prophet went to ascertain his (i.e. the uncle’s) side of the story.

Entering in the presence of his uncle, the Prophet found him drunk with wine. Upon seeing the displeasure in his nephew’s face, the uncle knew at once, despite his intoxication, that the Prophet had come to question him about Ali’s beast of war. With nothing good to say in his defense, the guilt-ridden, drunken uncle blurted out to his nephew: “You and your father are my slaves!” The Prophet’s only response to the blasphemous outburst was to exclaim: “Truly, alcohol is the mother of every evil!”

(from IslamReligion.com)

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