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baby daddy

[ bey-bee dad-ee ]
/ ˈbeɪ bi ˌdæd i /
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noun Slang: Often Disparaging and Offensive.

the biological father of a woman's child, usually not married to the child's mother or not in a relationship with her: Her baby daddy never comes to visit her or their child.

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Origin of baby daddy

First recorded in 1990–95; African American Vernacular English
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

ABOUT THIS WORD

What does baby daddy mean?

A baby daddy is the biological father of a child, usually when he’s not in a relationship with the mother and not actively raising the child. Use of the term can be disparaging and offensive.

How is baby daddy pronounced?

[ bey-bee dad-ee ]

Where does baby daddy come from?

Like its counterpart baby mama, the origins of baby daddy are unclear and somewhat disputed.

According to linguist John McWhorter, dropping the possessive marker s, as in baby’s daddy, comes from lower-class English dialects, particularly in historic Yorkshire, England. Some poor people with these particular dialects were sent to work in the fields alongside African slaves in the US.

These slaves, who were learning English, adopted the practice of dropping the possessive s, too. Their descendants, who speak Black English, carried on the practice, yielding an expression like baby daddy for a baby’s father.

Alternatively, linguist Peter L. Patrick claims use of the expression baby daddy (and its counterpart baby mama) comes from such Jamaican English forms as baby fadda and baby madda.

The expression baby’s daddy appears in nursery rhymes dating to at least the 1870s. The expression without the possessive s wasn’t popularized, however, until the 1990s, spread in part through hip-hop music. Baby mama, for her part, appears to have spread through Jamaican dancehall music in the 1960s.

How is baby daddy used in real life?

The term baby daddy literally refers to the father of a baby. The slang implication, however, is that the father isn’t in the childrearing picture.

While the term baby daddy originated in Black English, it’s gone mainstream thanks to quite a few hip-hop and R&B songs, such as the 1997 hit “My Baby Daddy” by B-Rock and the Bizz. You’ll also see baby daddy used in reference to celebrity parents in the tabloids.

Baby Daddy is also the name of an ABC sitcom inspired by the 1987 film Three Men and a Baby, which aired from 2012–17. The plot revolves around a bachelor, Ben, who is surprised when his one-night stand leaves their resulting baby on his doorstep. This show helped further popularize the expression baby daddy in American pop culture.

The term baby daddy can often be derogatory, implying that the man isn’t in a relationship with the baby’s mother, that he doesn’t spend a lot of time with his kids, that he doesn’t pay child support or is unreliable in general. However, it’s also been adopted in a neutral or positive way to refer to the father of someone’s baby.

Given its close association with Black culture, white people using baby daddy may come off as appropriative in some contexts.

More examples of baby daddy:

“Bristol Palin struggled over a financial contract issue with her baby daddy Levi Johnston on Monday’s episode of Teen Mom OG.”
Daily Mail (headline), November 2018

Note

This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

Example sentences from the Web for baby daddy

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