What does "Кузькина мать" Russian expression mean?

Russian idiom «Кузькина мать»


Have you ever seen Kuzka’s mother? 
Can you imagine how does she look like? 
May be she is a very beautiful  woman with long curly hair or may be she looks like an old witch?  

I guess nobody of you saw her.  Don't worry, nobody never saw her.  
Moreover, nobody knows who is Kuzka.
The name that is used here is Kuzma (Кузьма) (old Russian male name) and Kuz'ka (Кузька) is diminutive form of this name.  The suffix "ин" is the suffix of possession ( мамина, папина, Олина, Светина etc) 

The Russian idiom «Кузькина мать»,(Kuzka’s mother) or  «Показать кузькину мать» ( to show Kuzka’s mother to someone)  denotes threat or menace.  Usually it is used as an ironic way of threatening, when somebody wants to punish someone, to teach smb a lesson.

Examples from literature:

  • «Что, небось, узнал в ту пору, как кузькину мать зовут!» (М. Е. Салтыков-Щедрин)
  • Очумелов: «Чья собака? Я этого так не оставлю. Я покажу вам, как собак распускать! <…>Я ему покажу кузькину мать!..»  (Чехов) 
This Russian idiom became very popular when Nikita Khrushchev- a Russian politician leader (during a part of the Cold War)  used this expression in 1959 in conversation with  the American president Richard Nixon.
During a discussion about communism vs. capitalism Khrushchev boasted that the Soviet Union "we shall show you Kuzka's mother».
«В нашем распоряжении имеются средства, которые будут иметь для вас тяжёлые последствия. Мы вам покажем кузькину мать

There is no equivalent in English and the interpreter was stunned and said something literal about the mother of Kuzma. According to the history Americans decided that this is the name of new Russian secret weapon. (Because of the phrase's use in cold-war diplomacy, it became a code word for the atomic bomb. In particular, the Tsar bomba was nicknamed "Kuzka's mother" by its builders.)

The origin of this Russian expression is still unclear. 
One of the version is connected with the mother of Russian folklore personage (домовой - bogeyman, also bogy) Kuzma. His mother considered to be very horrendous. If a person see the mother of Kozma he will be scared into grey hair. That’s why everybody was afraid of this meeting. 

So if somebody is going to show you Kuzka’s mother -be ready that somebody is going to teach you a lesson you to punish you for something. 

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