Printable Version
Pronunciation: mo-ęb Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A wash pot, sink, tub or washing place. 2. (MOAB) An acronym bor Massive Ordinance Air Blast, a 21,000 pound bomb, the largest conventional bomb in the US military arsenal.

Notes: Clearly the British and US are at odds in the use of today's word. The British see it as a place for cleaning up while the US sees it as something for 'cleaning up' a place. The MOAB is part of the US military's 'shock and awe' strategy of causing extreme fright with the sheer power of our ordnance.

In Play: In writing about the British public schools in 1867, W. L. Collins commented, "It was not pleasant to have to wash at the old Moab—an open conduit in the quadrangle, where it was necessary, on a severe winter morning, for a junior to melt the ice on the stop-cock with a lighted faggot before any water could be got to flow at all." Speaking of external heat, according to USA Today, "MOAB might not be the largest conventional weapon in the arsenal for long. A 30,000-pound weapon called Big BLU (Bomb Live Unit) is being developed and might be available for use in Iraq." My bomb's greater than yours—and always will be!

Word History: Moab originally was a small kingdom to the east of the Dead Sea, currently southwest Jordan, with roots in the 13th century BCE. According to the Bible, the Moabites were descendants of Lot. In the King James Version of Psalms 60:8 David claims, "Moab is my wash pot," referring to his subjugation of Moab. From this reference, the British humorously applied the word to their washing vessels and places. One can only wonder whether irony was the intent in selecting "MOAB" as the acronym of the new level of US ordnance to be introduced in the Middle East.

Dr. Goodword,

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