One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A spirit woman often taking the form of a mermaid, and believed in parts of Africa (especially West Africa) to inhabit lakes and rivers.
1960s; earliest use found in Chinua Achebe (1930–2013), novelist and poet. From mammy + water, probably after a West African name.
Mammy Water/ˌmami ˈwɔːtə/
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