[Ads-l] "the man that married Hannah"

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Thu Aug 20 05:01:38 EDT 2020

At his blog* Anatoly Liberman mentioned "That's the chap as married Hanna" and said it was unexplained.

Hotten’s 1864 Slang Dictionary (p. 151) says “the man as married Hannah” is “a Salopian [Shropshire] phrase to express a matter begun.”

The British Newspaper Archive gives an unchecked ORC snippet from an 1869 Staffordshire newspaper. Charley Knight tells that he is “the man that married Hannah,” but his hearer is puzzled: “but to what good lady the said knight alluded remains to me a mystery….”

Rather than referring to a forgotten individual named Hannah, I suggest it may be that someone knew Hebrew (or 1 Samuel 1) and that it meant that marriage to Hannah brought grace, favour, because that is what her name means.

Stephen Goranson
Stephen Goranson's Home Page<http://people.duke.edu/~goranson/>
Stephen Goranson. goranson "at" duke "dot" edu. Jannaeus.pdf. My paper on the history of Alexander Jannaeus as the Qumran- and Essene-view "Wicked Priest" and Judah the Essene as the "Teacher of Righteousness" (3 August 2005 [revised 12 January 2006]; 34 pages), "Jannaeus, His Brother Absalom, and Judah the Essene ". Dura-Europos.pdf "7 vs. 8: The Battle Over the Holy Day at Dura-Europos"
*"....Here is a good phrase: “That’s the chap as married Hannah.” It means “That’s what I need” (Nottingham, 1900). No one could explain it, but there must have been a story about some modern-day Darby and Joan<https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780199567454.001.0001/acref-9780199567454-e-526> behind it...."
English idioms about family life and conjugal felicity | OUPblog<https://blog.oup.com/2020/08/english-idioms-about-family-life-and-conjugal-felicity/>
A few husbands did not fare much better. In Scotland, a henpecked husband is called John Thomson’s man. John is an absurd alteration of Joan.I know the phrase from an 1849 letter to The Gentleman’s Magazine (a wonderful periodical), but the OED has an early sixteenth-century citation! Some such phrases show enviable longevity.

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