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a carrier or transmitter of anything undesirable, harmful, or catastrophic.
THINGAMABOB OR THINGUMMY: CAN YOU DISTINGUISH BETWEEN THE US AND UK TERMS IN THIS QUIZ?
Do you know the difference between everyday US and UK terminology? Test yourself with this quiz on words that differ across the Atlantic.
Question 1 of 7
In the UK, COTTON CANDY is more commonly known as…
Origin of Typhoid Mary
First recorded in 1905–10; so called after Mary Mallon (1869–1938), Irish-born cook in the U.S., who was found to be a typhoid carrier
Words nearby Typhoid Mary
typhoid, typhoidal, typhoid bacillus, typhoid fever, typhoidin, Typhoid Mary, typhon, typhoon, typhus, typical, typically
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
Cultural definitions for Typhoid Mary (1 of 2)
A person likely to cause a disaster; from Mary Mallen, an Irish woman in the United States who was discovered to be a carrier of typhoid fever.
Cultural definitions for Typhoid Mary (2 of 2)
A cook who carried typhoid fever and passed it on to many people in and around New York City in the early twentieth century.
notes for Typhoid Mary
The term is often applied to the carrier of a contagious disease, or, more generally, to anyone who brings bad luck: “The last three insurance companies I had policies with folded. I feel like Typhoid Mary.”
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Other Idioms and Phrases with Typhoid Mary
A carrier or spreader of misfortune, as in I swear he's a typhoid Mary; everything at the office has gone wrong since he was hired. This expression alludes to a real person, Mary Manson, who died in 1938. An Irish-born servant, she transmitted typhoid fever to others and was referred to as “typhoid Mary” from the early 1900s. The term was broadened to other carriers of calamity in the mid-1900s.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.