. . . kill one's own mother . . .

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. . . kill one's own mother . . .

Post by CharlieHorse » Fri Oct 07, 2005 7:32 am

Has anyone heard the expression that someone "would kill their mother if they thought they'd get ahead?"
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. . . kill one's own mother . . .

Post by mike2005 » Fri Oct 07, 2005 7:00 pm

it is not just common it's criminal ;)
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. . . kill one's own mother . . .

Post by CharlieHorse » Fri Oct 07, 2005 11:31 pm

Of course if taken literally it's criminal. It's been presented to me though as a "common saying" meaning someone would be so single minded as to achieve their goal regardless of the cost. I am wondering if it's really all that common? Has anyone else used it or heard it used?
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. . . kill one's own mother . . .

Post by Phil White » Sat Oct 08, 2005 8:05 am

Margot Asquith once said the following of Winston Churchill:

He would kill his own mother just so that he could use her skin to make a drum to beat his own praises.
I can't date it, but I would guess sometime in the 1930's. I wouldn't like to say whether that was the first time the phrase was used.
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. . . kill one's own mother . . .

Post by Talaghn » Sat Oct 08, 2005 2:37 pm

I know loads of people thats say that actually! its kind of stange but its different!
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. . . kill one's own mother . . .

Post by CharlieHorse » Sun Oct 09, 2005 9:44 am

Thank you Phil White. What a font of knowledge you seem to be. Anyway with regard to this saying, I now know that it's probably been in common usage for quite awhile.
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. . . kill one's own mother . . .

Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Oct 11, 2005 6:02 pm

Carol, WOULD KILL HIS/HER/THEIR/YOUR OWN MOTHER has been around at least since the time of Orestes (of ancient Greek mother-killing fame) but not necessarily in the humorous form of “He would kill his own mother for a good corned beef on rye!” or even in the sarcastic form “He’d kill his own mother for one step up the corporate ladder.” There are many examples of its use on the Internet, but not a huge number, ~ 3500, with many of these being false positives (nonfigurative senses - Orestes, etc.). It is doubtful, though, whether one could ever pinpoint when and how an expression of this variety (the unetymologicalables!) first came into being.

Some typical Google hits included:

WOULD KILL HIS OWN MOTHER: for this job, for this car, for a promotion, for this chance, for a nickel, for a dime, for a dollar, for $5, for this opportunity, to get elected, for a Super Bowl ring, if his duty required it, if it suited him, if she got in the way, if the price was right, if she were in the way of his agenda,. . . “

The earliest example I could find was from the 1930s, but there’s no telling how far back the figurative use of this expression actually goes:
<1937 “In case you connect with 40-100 bucks it would be much easier, because the orderly would KILL HIS OWN MOTHER for that money. [[criminal planning prison break]]”—‘New York Times, 16 July, page 3>

<1953 “Corp. Harold Wilson, 32, of Mobile, Ala. said one prisoner, considered the ‘No. 1 progressive’ in camp 5 [[a North Korean POW camp]] had said he would ‘KILL HIS OWN MOTHER and father if they interfered with him being a Communist, and would never ever spit on an American dollar again.”—‘Chicago Tribune,’ 11 August, page 5> [[article on returning ‘brainwashed’ U.S. prisoners of war]]

<1974 The Negro policeman, once an admired figure, becomes in black militant literature the most despicable of traitors. The general view of the black ‘pigs’ is expressed in Bobb Hamilton’s sarcastic ‘Poem to a Nigger Cop’ where he is described as a ‘Black skin in blue mask,’ who would KILL HIS OWN MOTHER in order to please Mr. Charlie [[U.S. Black slang for any white man – from 1920s and still in use]]”—‘Negro American Literature Forum,’ Vol. 8, No. 2, Summer, page 220>
A similar ‘mother’ expression is WOULD SELL HIS OWN MOTHER [sometimes with INTO SLAVERY or DOWN THE RIVER], which produced ~ 1500 Google hits.

Some typical Google hits included:

WOULD SELL HIS OWN MOTHER: for a quick buck, for the right price, for a nickel, to get ahead, to close a deal, to get elected, for a pint, for a gold coin, for a gold record, to score another trick, . . .
<1911 “In ‘Pudd’nhead Wilson’ the great passages of ‘Huckleberry Finn’ are rivaled by that most pathetic account of the weak son willing to SELL HIS OWN MOTHER as a slave ‘DOWN THE RIVER.”—‘New York Times,’ 29 January, page BR48>

<1977 “The white man’s never been concerned with his woman, not really. That’s always been the illusion he created, putting the white woman on the pedestal, He WOULD SELL HIS OWN MOTHER DOWN THE RIVER to get power.”—‘Black American Literature Forum,’ Vol. 11, No. 3. Autumn, page 89>

<1981 “Sciortino’s attorney, Richard Caballero called Hauser ‘a liar and a cheat’ who WOULD SELL HIS OWN MOTHER DOWN THE RIVER.”—‘Los Angeles Times,’ 12 December, page 1>
Ken G – October 11, 2005
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. . . kill one's own mother . . .

Post by CharlieHorse » Thu Oct 13, 2005 10:47 am

Thanks Ken. That's very comprehensive and although I was rather pleased with myself that I found this site using Google, I can see I have a lot to learn about searching for unusual information.
I thought I'd keyed in some useful search terms but got nothing like you managed.
Cheers, Carol
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