Maudlin is a corruption of the name Mary Magdalen. Indeed, Magdalen was pronounced and often spelled "maudlin" in the Middle Ages, which explains why there is a college in Oxford spelled Magdalen but pronounced "maudlin" by all but the unwary tourists! Now Mary Magdalen, who is mentioned by name in the Gospels only as a follower of Christ who watched at the crucifixion, was often identified in tradition with the unnamed "sinner" in Luke's Gospel who came to see Jesus, wept, and then bathed his feet with her tears and dried them with her long hair. As a result, in art Mary Magdalen was often depicted as weeping, either in this particular incident or by the cross. So by 1600, maudlin was being used to mean "weepy." Not long after that, it was being used to designate any effusive display of sentimentality, especially by someone who is drunk.
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