Antedating of "MILF"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Feb 25 18:56:38 UTC 2013

I agree with VS (and JL) that Sutton's characterization seems off, at least with the hindsight (as it were) of 20 years.

To be sure, "condescension" (like "condescend") has undergone connotative shifts over the years; I remember being struck by Austen's apparently positive use of it as an attitude or act embodying grace.  OED's sense 2 is 'To come or bend down, so far as a particular action is concerned, from one's position of dignity or pride; to stoop voluntarily and graciously' and 3, quoting Dr. Johnson, is 'To depart from the privileges of superiority by a voluntary submission; to sink willingly to equal terms with inferiours'.  Clearly there's been some shifting with the winds of change in our attitudes toward class differences, and the OED's entry is almost entirely daggered with purportedly obsolete uses.  As for the nominal, the only two non-daggered senses for "condescension" are strikingly positive:

2.  Voluntary abnegation for the nonce of the privileges of a superior; affability to one's inferiors, with courteous disregard of difference of rank or position
4.  Gracious, considerate, or submissive deference shown to another; complaisance.

Now, neither of these seems quite to capture the motivation of "MILF"-wielders, but then neither does AHD's more up-to-date negatively connoting sense, 'Patronizingly superior behavior or attitude'. Victor's "objectification" certainly seems to hit the mark for at least some instances of the attitude "men" are intending to express. ("Coarseness" goes without saying but that's more manner than content).  Or maybe we need a new noun--MILiFication?

--LH, wondering if there might be a class-related distinction between British and U.S. connotations for "condescend/sion"

On Feb 25, 2013, at 12:46 PM, Victor Steinbok wrote:

> This is actually interesting because the description shows that it
> either misses the point of the expression or that the meaning has evolved.
> In the stated form, it's used in American Pie (Stiffler's Mom). It
> applies when a male is speaking about an older women, perhaps a mother
> of a friend (think, The Graduate). This certainly exists on its own
> (this was an important part of Sons of Anarchy plot in an early season).
> But if you look at tabloids, particularly their on-line equivalents
> (TMZ, etc.), the expression actually applies to mothers of any age,
> including teen-mom celebrities. I am also wondering if "condescension"
> is quite the right word to describe the attitude. Objectification?
> Corseness?
>    VS-)
> On 2/25/2013 9:28 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>> ...Sutton's discussion on p. 565 ("The acronym MILF ('mother I'd like
>> to fuck') is particularly interesting, since it singles out older
>> women and expresses men's condescension toward them"). I can send
>> either or both of you a .pdf of the article copied from that book.
>> LH
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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