Peeve of a Summer’s Day

Dr. Doyle's Blog

The air is thick with humidity and allergens, and I am peevish.

Listen to me, O People, when I say unto you, the phrase is not “mother load”, it is “mother lode.”

The term comes from mining, specifically gold and silver mining, where it refers to a principle vein or group of veins of ore. The Mother Lode, in the United States, is an area of hard-rock gold deposits in California’s Sierra Nevada, running through a zone 120 miles long and in some places almost 4 miles wide. (It was, unsurprisingly, discovered during the California Gold Rush.)

A mother lode of something, then, is an abundant source or principle supply of that thing. The “mother” part comes from the use of “mother” to refer to a source or origin: “Mother of pearl” refers to the substance known as nacre, with which a mollusk encases the bit of irritant which…

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