My husband and I had invited his whole work team for this weekend, but more than half of them couldn’t make it. But two people really wanted to come anyway, so - although it wasn’t going to be the team event we he had planned - we felt we couldn’t disinvite them. But last night one of them heard that her mother had been taken ill and into hospital, so texted us and the other one this morning to say sorry, but she was going straight home to be with her family. The other one was already at the railway station with her ticket paid for, so could hardly be put off. But half an hour later she said the whole station had been evacuated for some emergency, and she didn’t know when she was going to be able to get on a train! At which point my husband said ‘ This weekend really has the mockers on it.’
For anybody who doesn’t know the phrase have the mockers on, it means ‘be jinxed, unlucky’. You can also put the mockers on someone or -thing. The OED calls it ‘slang (orig. Austral.). Etymology: Origin uncertain. Perhaps < Yiddish make sore, scourge’ and gives a first citation from 1923.
Are there any alternative origins? Early 20th century Australia isn’t a milieu in which you’d expect much Yiddish-based slang to have emerged. Are there any earlier sightings, in Cockney for example? Or any possible alternative derivations for the word?
And how wide is its range? As a Londoner I’ve heard it used all my life, but I don’t know how much currency it has oop North, let alone in Leftpondia.