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The novel Wicked has a handful of adult characters given the title "Ama" (e.g. Ama Clutch). It never explains what significance this title is meant to confer. Is there an official source or interview anywhere that could clear this up?

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    Grandma->Grama-> Ama
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 22:12

3 Answers 3

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While never fully explained, the Amas take the roles of nanny when the ward is younger or chaperone once the ward is of age to go off to school.

From Book 2 - Gillikin, page 64, Ama Clutch is described as a "minder" and mentions that she is supposed to come to Shin and chaperone Galinda.

At the last minute before she was to board the train, her minder, Ama Clutch, had stepped on a rusty nail and, terrified of the frozen-face syndrome, had begged permission to go to the nearest surgery for medicines and calming spells. “I can surely get myself to Shiz alone,” Galinda had said coldly, “don’t bother with me, Ama Clutch.” And Ama Clutch hadn’t. Galinda hoped that Ama Clutch would suffer a little frozenness of jaw before being well enough to show up in Shin and chaperone Galinda through whatever was to come.

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    Backing something up with purely secondary sources is... not worth much though. Commented Dec 8, 2012 at 9:52
  • No, I couldn't find direct-quote explanation while I was at work. But I hoped that three separate sources agreeing would at least help provide a helpful answer even if it's not definitive.
    – phantom42
    Commented Dec 8, 2012 at 14:34
  • Wow, that Galinda sounds like a real nice gal. Not. Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 20:42
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The word "amah" means mother in several languages. It's also used to describe a nanny or nursemaid. I think it was used in the British Raj to mean a nanny, though I may be getting that mixed up with "ayah".

Anyhow, I'd guess it's a term of respect.

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The Amas are the people who choose roommates, introduce people, and make sure that the girls are well cared for.

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    This seems like a worse version of @phantom42 's accepted answer.
    – Mithical
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 20:42

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