An interesting etymology for Magdalene/maudlin according to an old book I’m reading titled, Word Origins The Romance of Language ,published in 1949. Would maudlin be considered a back-formation of Magdalene?
A Magdalene is a reformed prostitute. The derivation is from Mary Magdalene, or of Magdala, a town on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. She is first mentioned as having had seven devils cast out of her (Luke viii. 2) and as ministering to Christ of her substance. She, with other woman, is said to have followed Christ, but Mary Magdalene is not specifically named again until the Crucifixion.
The word maudlin derives from the same source; probably in particular reference to the frequent portrayals in early art of the Magdalene as a weeping figure.
OED seems to have a similar etymology.
Forms: ME Magdalein, ME Magdaleyne, ME Magdeleyne, ME–15 Magdaleyn, ME–15 Magdelen… (Show More)
Frequency (in current use): http://www.oed.com/frequencybandinformation/4
Origin: A borrowing from Latin. Etymons: Latin Maria, Magdalena.
Etymology: < post-classical Latin (Vulgate) (Maria) Magdalena, Magdalene < Hellenistic Greek (Μαρία ἡ) Μαγδαληνή , (Mary) of Magdala < Μάγδαλα name of a town on the Sea of Galilee ( < Aramaic Magdĕlā , lit. ‘tower’) + -ηνη -ENE suffix.
The popular form of the word is MAUDLIN n.; the pronunciation
represented by this spelling is still current for the names of Magdalen College, Oxford, and Magdalene College, Cambridge.
In the course of the history of the two forms, there has been an almost complete overlap of usage (compare senses at MAUDLIN n.), although apparently never for very long in each sense. The spelling Magdalen or Magdalene became established for references to Mary herself, and in senses relating to her identification as a reformed prostitute; maudlin , except in the names of plants, only for ‘mawkish sentimentality’, after MAUDLIN adj.
Forms: ME maudelaine, ME maudelayne, ME mavdelen, ME mawdelayn, MEmawdelayne, ME ... (Show More)
Frequency (in current use): http://www.oed.com/frequencybandinformation/3
Origin: Formed within English, by compounding. Etymons: English maudelain , MAUDLIN adj.
Etymology: < maudelain, maudelen, etc., Middle English forms (see below) of the name of Mary Magdalene, ultimately (probably via Old French) < post-classical Latin MariaMagdalena (see MAGDALENE n.). In branch II. < MAUDLIN adj.
See MAGDALENE n. for the semantic overlap of the two forms of the word.