"baby mama" does not mean what they thought it means

Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Tue Apr 29 22:01:57 UTC 2008

On Tue, Apr 29, 2008 at 12:22 AM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:
> What is the source of the OED's assertion: "... _not (in most cases)_
>  his current or exclusive partner"?

They don't give the source online, but here's a fuller excerpt. All
the terms are under headword "baby".

  * baby-mama n. (also baby-mamma) colloq. (chiefly in
African-American usage) = baby-mother n.

1986 Toronto Star (Nexis) 23 Mar. F3 Songs that promoted racial
tolerance..and the dignity of women ('Hush *Baby Mama'). 2003 N.Y.
Times (National ed.) 5 Oct. II. 31/2 It was a crossover hit, thanks to
'Ms. Jackson', a conflicted ode to baby-mamas.

  * baby-mother n. (orig. Caribbean and in British Afro-Caribbean
usage) the mother of a man's child, who is not his wife nor (in most
cases) his current or exclusive partner.

1966 Daily Gleaner (Kingston, Jamaica) 11 Dec. (Mag.) 4 Two girls have
three children for him. One *baby-mother is in America and the other
is in the country. 2001 Touch Dec. 112/2 Jody..is 20 years old, lives
at home with his mum.., doesn't have a job and his two babymothers
Yvette..and Peanut..are always on his case.

They also list the parallel male terms:

 * baby-daddy n. colloq. (chiefly in African-American usage) = baby-father n.

1993 Independent 1 Dec. 35/5 Her '*baby-daddy'{em}the father of her
child{em}had been stabbed. 2003 A. VALDES-RODRIGUEZ Dirty Girls Social
Club 55 They ask me to give shout outs to their baby daddies.

  * baby-father n. (orig. Caribbean and in British Afro-Caribbean
usage) the father of a woman's child, who is not her husband or (in
most cases) her current or exclusive partner.

1978 Sunday Gleaner (Kingston, Jamaica) 5 Mar. 9/2 The true
relationship must be based on *baby-father taking his true place in
the home and among the community. 1998 Guardian 11 Sept. (Friday Rev.
section) 11/2 Among Britons of West Indian origin, a man refers to a
woman as his babymother when she has borne his child out of wedlock.
He is her babyfather.

Mark Mandel

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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