follow Dictionary.com

Get the details behind our redesign

Typhoid Mary

noun
1.
a carrier or transmitter of anything undesirable, harmful, or catastrophic.
Origin
after Mary Mallon (died 1938), Irish-born cook in the U.S., who was found to be a typhoid carrier

Mallon

[mal-uh n] /ˈmæl ən/
noun
1.
Mary ("Typhoid Mary") 1869?–1938, U.S. cook, born in Ireland: known immune carrier of typhoid fever who infected many with the disease, institutionalized in 1914.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
Typhoid Mary in Culture

Typhoid Mary definition


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.

Typhoid Mary definition


A cook who carried typhoid fever and passed it on to many people in and around New York City in the early twentieth century.

Note: 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 American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
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 Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of The Day

Difficulty index for Typhoid Mary

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for Typhoid

16
15
Scrabble Words With Friends