MILF (was Re: change from the bottom up)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Tue May 1 20:05:24 UTC 2007

On 5/1/07, Baker, John <JMB at> wrote:
>         Nice work, Ben.  I doubt that there will be much improvement on
> this in tracing the origin of "milf."  Did your contact mention whether
> the name was supposed to be an abbreviation for "mother . . ." or "mom .
> . ."?

He says it was the former.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
> Of Benjamin Zimmer
> Sent: Tuesday, May 01, 2007 12:37 PM
> Subject: Re: MILF (was Re: change from the bottom up)
> On 4/26/07, Arnold M. Zwicky <zwicky at> wrote:
> >
> > On Apr 26, 2007, at 9:15 AM, John Baker wrote:
> >
> > > Any connection with the band Milf, which seems to have flourished in
> > > the 1993 - 1995 period?
> >
> > i'd guess the band name was chosen on the basis of the expression, but
> > i don't know anything about the band.
> I managed to track down a former member of the band and he emailed back
> with some background. He gave me permission to quote his email, though
> he chooses to remain anonymous.
> -----[begin email]-----
> My recollection is that we adopted the name for the band in January
> 1991. We heard the acronym/word from a friend who was a lifeguard in the
> Buffalo area, specifially Fort Niagara State Park (one of my
> ex-bandmates, also a lifeguard, yesterday confirmed that it was "a
> lifeguard term"). I would not say it was common at that time -- in fact,
> it being the first time we'd ever heard it is probably what led us to
> choose it as a band name. We probably intended it as a temporary name.
> However, as we started to play shows and release music, the name ended
> up sticking. The first "national" press mention of the band name would
> have been in 1993/1994, when reviews our our music began to show up in
> music magazines, such as Alternative Press, Option, and so on.
> The band was also probably mentioned in the Buffalo News (Buffalo's
> daily newspaper) and other regional publications as early as 1992. The
> band ended in the fall of 1995.
> Our promotional materials and logo used the word as all lowercase, no
> periods.
> -----[end email]-----
> I found a concert ad for the band in The Ithacan (student paper of
> Ithaca College) from Sep. 17, 1992, and the name does indeed appear in
> all lowercase.
> GLE.PDF#OLV0_Entity_0023_0002
> --Ben Zimmer

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