MILF (was Re: change from the bottom up)

James Harbeck jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA
Tue May 1 03:31:45 UTC 2007

>I'm not sure that that's terribly likely, either from meaning or sound.
>Meaning: Motherfucker is (usually) used pejoratively, while MILF is
>(usually) used in praise. Sound: If MILF could stand for "mother i'd
>like to fucker" (or, presumably, "...fuck 'er") i could see the
>parallel, but i don't think i've ever heard a hint of that.

I don't quite see the point here. There is no need to assume people
are so programmatic and simple-minded in ther borrowings and
references. My experience with phrase inventions and borrowings is
that people are far more promiscuous and heedless -- and inventive --
than you suggest. "Motherfucker" is, first of all, a taboo term, with
the air that goes with that; while it is commonly used negatively,
there is an awareness that it has a literal sense, and that awareness
of the literal sense allows for joking uses and other plays on words,
all within the same taboo sphere but not necessarily negatively in
every case (anything involving the word "fuck" carries with it the
charge of testosterone that can be positive or negative, or both --
many guys will, after all, talk about wanting to get fucked one
minute, and the next minute protest to someone "Why are you fucking
me?"). And if there is a motherfucker, there is a mother who is

Moreover, consider the popular chant that students used to shout when
"Mony Mony" was played at dances (Billy Idol's version, I think it
was): "Hey motherfucker, get laid, get fucked." We can see here that
"motherfucker" also has a looser, less negative sense of "dude,"
"guy," etc., with the vulgarity of familiarity (just like Begbie in
_Trainspotting_ calling even his friends and himself "cunt"), and
that there is a literal reference available. I wouldn't be surprised
if MILF sprang out of the same cultural moment.

There are, of course, other phrasings that also play into the same
thing -- the insult "Fuck your mother!" which also has currency in
some spheres, for instance. So it's possible that the reference comes
more out of the general meme rather than the specific phrase by

><David does quick googling/>
>1 hit each for "mother i'd like to fuck her" and "mother id like to fuck
>her", none for any other possibilities i could think of (excluding 1 hit
>where the "er" wasn't English).

Again, I really don't see the point. People aren't that simple-minded
or computer-like. Transpositions and sideways references are the
common stuff of colloquial conversation, where part of one's
expression is typically to demonstrate one's cleverness -- and test
the cleverness of one's friends -- through sideways references and
allusions and truncated expressions.

I'm going to start making note of examples of this sort of thing --
usually I just let it float past, but I want to come up with some
instances to illustrate my point, and I don't have an index-card
mental organization.

But I'll also ask some of my friends who know the term what version
they say it stands for and where they think it came from.

I'd like to add that I don't see a clear justification for the
phrasing outside of the "motherfucker"/"fuck your mother" reference,
and that pretty much anyone habituated to vulgarity is bound to think
of the term "motherfucker" the moment they hear the phrase "mother
I'd like to fuck."

James Harbeck.

The American Dialect Society -

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