baby mama

or ba·by mom·ma


noun Slang: Often Disparaging and Offensive.

the biological mother of a man's child, not married to the child's father and usually not in a relationship with him.

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ABOUT THIS WORD

What does baby mama mean?

A baby mama is the biological mother of a baby, usually when she’s not married to or in a relationship with the father. Use of the term can be disparaging and offensive.

Where does baby mama come from?

The origin of the term baby mama is somewhat disputed. According to the linguist John McWhorter, the feature of dropping the possessive marker, s, (as in baby’s mama) comes from lower-class English dialects, particularly in historic Yorkshire, England. Some people with these particular dialects were sent to work in the fields alongside African slaves in the U.S. 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 mama for a baby’s mother.

Alternatively, linguist Peter L. Patrick argues that use of the expression baby mama (and its counterpart baby daddy) comes from such Jamaican English forms as baby madda and baby fadda. These expressions were then popularized in the U.S. through reggae and dance music in the 1980s, particularly Linval Thompson’s 1981 track “Baby Mother,” which is about treating the woman carrying your child right.

The term baby mama appears to have spread in Black English from the 1980s onward. By the 1990s, it was commonly found in hip-hop lyrics. The expression went mainstream with OutKast’s 2000 hit “Ms. Jackson,” which was dedicated to “baby mamas’ mamas.”

How is baby mama used in real life?

The term baby mama literally refers to the mother of a baby. The slang implication, however, is that the father no longer has a serious relationship with this person.

While the term baby mama originated in Black English, it’s gone mainstream—at least in the sense that tabloids feel comfortable running headlines like “JUSTIN REVEALS BABY MAMA.” However, it’s still closely associated with Black American culture, and use of it by others might come off as derogatory (activating harmful myths like welfare queen) or appropriative, depending on the context.

The term baby mama was initially derogatory, dealing with historic stigmas surrounding single mothers. As a result, it has a negative connotation to this day. However, it’s also been adopted and used in a positive way by women themselves, as in Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s 2008 comedy Baby Mama.

The expression baby mama drama is used to refer when there’s conflict in your interactions with your baby mama.

More examples of baby mama:

“ … I am not mature enough to date anybody with a baby mama. I just haven’t gotten to that point.”
—@_YourKYiNESS, October 2018

“Via social media, Drake’s baby mama decided to flaunt her wealth, fantastic body, and troll the rapper by reminding him that she is very hot.”
—Dylan Fisher, Celebrity Insider, 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.