The term “motherload” performed a pratfall across the classified ads this week and landed in my neighborhood with a thud.
You see, the term “mother-lode” emerged during the Gold Rush days of the mid-19th century and described an especially rich vein, or “lode,” of precious ore.
It later came to mean a rich supply of anything.
“Motherload,” on the other hand, is a mere child by comparison. In some cases, writers have employed wry creative license with “motherload”: in the title of a one-woman play about trying to be a perfect mother, in the title of a blog about a superhero housewife, in the title of a book that centers on pregnancy, in the name of a doula service intended to take a burdensome load off mothers.
In most cases, though, ignorance rules. “Mother-lode” has become “motherload” in many cases because people simply don’t know the difference.
And then there’s Justin Bieber, whose lyrics in “You’ve Got the Mother Load” no doubt bring tears to the eyes of literate mothers everywhere:
Like bling in your mouth but it’s just old fillings.
Dry skin on your hands, and you’re so cracked
Hey girl, I want to watch you do you pilates, and skip
The hard part.
Cuz baby, you’ve got the mother load
So here’s my challenge: Learn the difference between “load” and “lode,” and save “motherload” for wry plays on words.
Do it for Mom.