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Origins of Phrase

THE MOTHER OF BATTLES, the phrase Saddam Hussein, right, is using to describe the war, means the ultimate battle or the battle to end all battles. In Arabic the phrase is um al-ma’arik. Um, meaning mother, connotes the source and origin of things. It’s a little like saying the granddaddy of all battles. “But in Arabic we never use father in that sense; we always use mother, because mother remains permanent, and fathers come and go,” says UCLA Prof. Afaf Al Sayyid-Marsot.


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