phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Phrases, Sayings and Idioms Home > Discussion Forum

Re: Great Maude and Mehetabe

Posted by Smokey Stover on November 15, 2008 at 04:18

In Reply to: Great Maude and Mehetabe posted by Jay Beuoy on November 14, 2008 at 17:34:

: I grew up hearing the expletive "Great Maude and Mehetabel". I can't be certain of the spelling. I know that Maude was a queen of England and I have no idea who a Mehetabel was or how the two got joined. Any ideas?

Mehetabel is mentioned in Genesis 36:39. She was the wife of Hadar or Hadad, an Edomite king, and the daughter of Matred, who was the daughter of Mezahab.

Queen Maude (Maud, or Matilda) was sometimes called Good Queen Maude, but I haven't heard Great Queen Maude. I suspect that the phrase "Great Queen Maude and Mehetabel" is a made-up oath, on the order of "Great Balls of Fire," although in a much earlier time. Maude and Mehetabel were once more common female names than they are now, and one could sometimes find both names in the same family. Mehetabel has the nicknames Hitty, Hetty and Mabel.

Although it is entirely irrelevant to your question, I need to mention Archy and Mehitabel, two characters created by Don Marquis, a newspaperman who had to fill a column six days a week. Starting in 1916 he included short essays composed on Marquis' typewriter by a cockroach named Archy, by jumping from key to key. But Archy (or archy) could not hit two keys at once, and his essays are all in lower-case. Mehitabel was an alley cat who befriended Archy. For a time, beginning in 1922, the stories were illustrated by the man who created Krazy Kat. Legions of Americans remember Archy and Mehitabel fondly.

Marquis also wrote essays and poetry, and published several books. Here is one of his many quotable aphorisms.

When a man tells you that he got rich through hard work, ask him: 'Whose?'
SS