Mom, Dad, Grandma, and Grandpa


I've written about the new internet slang meaning of mom a couple times now. In case you're unfamiliar with this sense, mom is generally used by young women to express admiration for another woman (who may or may not be an actual mom). It's popular on social media, and you'll often find it in the replies or comments on Twitter or Instagram. 

Its roots are almost certainly from drag ball culture of the 1980s, in which community members were organized into houses of their chosen families with a matriarch—appropriately called mom—at the head of each house (as discussed in the 1990 documentary Paris is Burning). The arts of voguing and throwing shade are also from '80s drag ball culture.

The modern social media use has spread to network television; mom was featured in a very GIFable scene in Scream Queens.


What about Dad?

It logically follows that if mom is a term of endearment, dad can be too. One of the most famous dads, in this sense, is Kanye West. He's married to Kim Kardashian, a woman who is often mommed by her fans (including the singer Lorde). Go to any of Kanye West's recent tweets and you'll see "dad," "hi dad," "proud of you dad," "good job dad," and "congrats dad" pop up in the comments. Dads and moms can also be embarrassing, but in an endearing way. I've seen constructions with both "dad stop" and "mom stop."

In the last week, not one, but two people sent me this article in which Bernie Sanders is referred to as dad. Here's an excerpt:

Hillary: College should be affordable. 
Twitter: Establishment puppet, no better than GOP. 
Bernie: College should be affordable. 
Twitter: DAD

It's not just pop-culture figures. It's politicians. Momming and dadding can happen to anyone.

Don't forget Grandma and Grandpa

The next rational place for this trend to go is back a generation, to grandparents.

However, calling a youngish person a grandma or grandpa has a different sort of meaning. I remember seeing the headline "A 19-Year-Old Named Gigi Admits She's a Grandma" and thinking, "That's very young to be a grandma." But then I quickly learned that for this particular model, the requirements for being "kind of a grandma" are simply cooking for her boyfriend and watching CSI. We can conclude from this example that a grandma is a person who sometimes enjoys not partying.

A Buzzfeed article affectionately calls Taylor Swift "Grandma Tay Tay" because she tends bake, craft, and post a lot on social media about cats. Baking, knitting, and not knowing how to use Facebook are characteristics that have earned male Broadway stars the corresponding title grandpa. In all these cases it's a good thing to be grandma'd and grandpa'd.

Will grandma and grandpa ever take on meanings similar to mom and dad? Have they already? It's a difficult question to research because a lot of people using these words and their variants (I've seen mum and father used in the same way as mom and dad) are referring to their actual moms, dads, grandmas, and grandpas.