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Originally, the term was used by the fathers of children born out of wedlock to describe the mothers of their children, but the term is now in general use to describe any single mother. Since entering currency in U.S. tabloids, the terms baby mama and baby daddy have even begun to be applied to married and engaged celebrities.
Peter L. Patrick, a linguistics professor who studies Jamaican English, has said of the terms baby mother and baby father, "[they] definitely imply there is not a marriage—not even a common-law marriage, but rather that the child is an 'outside' child".
The term "baby-mother" in Jamaica is most often used to describe any pregnant woman or any woman with a young child. For example on a crowded bus you may be admonished to give the "baby-mother" a seat. However in this case no judgement is being made about her marital status and literally means "the mother of the child".
The term originated in Jamaican Creole as "baby-mother" (pronounced [ˈbebi ˈmada]), with the first printed usage appearing in the Kingston newspaper, The Daily Gleaner in 1966. Another Daily Gleaner use dates from November 21, 1989.
On Wednesday, June 11, 2008, Fox News Channel used the phrase "Outraged liberals: Stop picking on Obama's baby mama" in an on screen graphic in a discussion as to whether U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama's wife, Michelle, was being unfairly criticized. A senior vice president of programming at Fox said in a statement that a producer "exercised poor judgment" during the segment.
Baby mother and baby mama had entered wide use in American hip-hop lyrics by the mid-1990s. The Outkast song "Ms. Jackson", released in 2000, was dedicated to "all the baby mamas' mamas". American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino released a song entitled "Baby Mama" in 2004. Planet Earth, an album by Prince released in 2007, features a song called "Future Baby Mama". Three 6 Mafia had a titled called "Baby Mama" on Choices: The Album.