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Daddy, is an internet slang term of affection used to address a male authority figure or idol in a sexualized manner. Despite its root in the proper definition of the word, as in one's biological father, in online conversations, "daddy" is exclusively said as a term of endearment in romantic relationships and male celebrity fandom.
The earliest known use of "daddy" in nonfamilial and sexual context can be attributed to the term "sugar daddy," a man who spends money for the benefit of a relationship with an often younger sexual partner, which has been documented in publications since as early as the 1920s, according to Google Ngram Viewer. The colloquialization of "sugar daddy" accelerated with the sexual liberation of the 1970s, while the emergence of leather fashion, LGBT movement and BDSM subculture gave rise to the term "leather daddy," which describe the leather-clad older male who assumes the dominant role in a sadomasochistic relationship. In the early 1990s, the term "pimp daddy" came into popular usage with the rising popularity of hip hop music centered around pimp culture.
Beginning in the early 2010s, "daddy" became a popular slang expression among teenagers to refer to or describe their male celebrity crushes on social media platforms, not dissimilar to the usage of waifu among anime fans and otakus, soon giving rise to the derivative catchphrase "daddy af" that cuaght on with fans of popular boy bands, namely the members of 5 Seconds of Summer and One Direction.
On June 14th, 2013, New York Magazine ran an article titled "Rise of the ‘Daddies’: A New (and Sexy) Gay Niche," which detailed a brief history of sexualization of "daddy," as well its evolution in terms of gay taxonomy. In November 2014, the usage came under mainstream attention after New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde tweeted "mom" in response to Kim Kardashian's Paper Magazine Cover, which stirred up a brief moment of confusion before she clarified what she had meanted in a blog post on Tumblr.
On November 19th, BuzzFeed picked up on the phenomenon in an article titled "Teens Are Now Referring To Their Favorite Celebrities As 'Mom.'" On March 23rd, 2016, GQ Magazine ranked eight celebrities and public figures by the count of tweets calling them "daddy" on Twitter, with then-member of One Direction Zayn Malik topping the list with over 9,900 mentions.
On Reddit and elsewhere, the term has been also used by alt-right supporters of the 2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, most notably conservative journalist Milo Yiannopoulos.
On August 20th, 2016, Shanley Kane went on a serial tweet rant denouncing casual, everyday use of "daddy" as making light of Freudian pscyhosexual complexes, as well as cultural appropriation of the LGBT community and BDSM subculture. As Kane's rant devolved into a heated exchange on the issue of cultural appropriation, many of those who disagreed with her argument began using the word "daddy" in tweets. By the next day, screenshots of Shanley Kane's now-deleted tweets on "daddy" had been picked up by Gizmodo, Washington Post and Esquire.
 Google Ngram – Records of ''sugar daddy, pimp daddy, leather daddy'
 New York Magazine – Rise of the ‘Daddies’: A New (and Sexy) Gay Niche
 Urban Dictionary – Daddy AF
 Urban Dictionary – Sugar Daddy
 Lorde – So Ella, I'm a huge fan and all…
 GQ – Which Celebrity Do Teens Tweet 'Daddy' at the Most?
 New York Magazine – My Heart Belongs to ‘Daddy’
 Washington Post – What is the ‘Daddy’ meme, and why are actual adults fighting about it?
 Esquire – Why the Internet Is Freaking Out About 'Daddy'
 Gizmodo – You Can't Appropriate Daddy
 Reddit – What are people referring to when they talk about "daddy" on my Twitter timeline?
 Twitter – @Lorde's Tweet
 BuzzFeed – Teens Are Now Referring To Their Favorite Celebrities As “Mom”
Aug 23, 2016 at 01:17AM EDT
Aug 23, 2016 at 12:55AM EDT
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