Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: load, n.; lode.

load, n.; lode. Although they have similar etymologies, their meanings have fully diverged. “Load” (in its basic senses) means “a quantity that can be carried at one time” or, by extension, “a burden” {a load of work} {a load off my mind}. “Lode” carries the narrow meaning “a deposit of ore,” as well as the figurative sense “a rich source or supply.” The correct phrase, then, is “mother lode” (= an abundant supply), not “mother load.” Although dozens of headline writers have used “mother load” as a pun (usually in reference to pregnant women), some have fallen into true error — e.g.: o “She worked as a computer programmer, but kept plugging away at the music. And finally, she hit the mother load [read ‘mother lode’].” Tony Kiss, “Messina Never Gave Up Dream of Music Career,” Asheville Citizen-Times, 3 Nov. 1996, at F1. o “This site is a mother load [read ‘mother lode’] of investing and financial planning information.” Ted Sickinger, “Web Review,” Kansas City Star, 6 Apr. 1997, at F23. For information about the Language-Change index click here. Quotation of the Day: “I am convinced that books written mainly to make money do not usually make much, and hence when somebody asks me if he should not write textbooks to make a lot of money, I am tempted to suggest that he get a nice cushy job as a baby sitter to a half dozen juvenile delinquent morons. He may live longer, and he will probably die wealthier.” Charlton Laird, And Gladly Teche 217 (1970).
Scroll to Top