Word Origin & History
city in north-central Iraq; phrase an appointment in Samarra indicating the inevitability of death is from an old Arabic tale (first in Eng. apparently in W. Somerset Maugham's play "Sheppey," 1933), in which a man meets Death one day in the marketplace in Baghdad and flees him to Samarra. When questioned,
Death replies, "I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra."