WHAT DOES “ADO” MEAN?
by Shawn Brasseaux
It is a bizarre little word, found only once in a King James Bible. Mark 5:39 tells us, “And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.” What could “ado” mean?
One way to discover the meaning is to scan the context (previous verse). “And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly. And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.” To further amplify our understanding, we turn to Matthew chapter 9 for the parallel account: “ And when Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise,  He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn.”
The Greek word for “ado” is “thorybeo,” and it was rendered “making a noise” in Matthew (see above). In the wake of Jairus’ daughter’s death, loved ones are crying and moaning, professional mourners are grieving, and musicians (flutists) are playing a sad song. What a “tumult” or commotion! Such “trouble” struck those who witnessed Eutychus’ tragic death in Acts 20:10. The city of Thessalonica was “set on an uproar” because unbelieving Jews stirred it up against the Apostle Paul and other Christians (Acts 17:5). Similar disturbances or upheavals can be found in Matthew 26:5, Matthew 27:24, Mark 5:38, Mark 14:2, Acts 20:1, Acts 21:34, and Acts 24:18.
“Ado” may seem strange to us, but it is really an abbreviated form of two familiar words. In Middle English (1300s), it was the infinitive phrase “at do,” with the original sense being “action, business.” Later, the “t” in “at” was dropped and the expression became “ado.”