Origin of "MF"

You know what I mean.

In the made-for-HBO movie bio of Don King, “Only in America,” starring Ving “I’m gonna get medieval on yo’ ass” Rhames, he is explaining with almost religious fervor to a minister and his wife (who had caught him gratuitously throwing the term around) that the provenance of that term was Blacks, and that it was one of the things that Blacks truly could call their own.

After he preached to them for a minute of two about it, he had them both saying it with all the conviction that you could imagine from a fundy saying “Praise the Lord.”

So, did this term originate with Blacks? If so, when? I first heard it in 1970.

(side note: During a toast, he mispronounces “L’chaim” as “L’haim.” A Jewish associate corrects him, saying “It’s ‘ch,’ not ‘h.’” King then redoes it correctly, saying, “That’s one thing Jews and Blacks have in common–the ‘ch.’” Don’t know that it means anything, but it was funny when he said it.

Kareem Abdul Jabbar once used the term (in the 70’s) to refer to another player. A reporter asked him about it, and he gave a fairly scholarly answer explaining how it was more common in the black community for a mother to raise her children alone, and therefore a man’s mother is the most important person in is life. The phrase, therefore, was meant as the worst insult possible, as a man who would do this to his mother was the lowest form of life.

The oldest use of the term I’ve ever heard (and let it be noted that I have absolutely no references to cite) was the supposed early (~1950) name “Mofos” said to have been used by the embryonic Hell’s Angels. Anybody know if that’s right? My dad was in the U.S. Army in WW II and didn’t remember MF being in use then.

Chapman’s American Slang confirms that the word is of black origin, but he doesn’t say how old it is.

Erm… to an untrained ear, the correct pronunciation would sound much like “L’haim.” The Hebrew /ch/ is very like the German /ch/ as in Bach–an aspirated guttural /h/ sound tending toward /kh/ in some places.

In fact, it sounds like an /h/ so much that the Western world has bastardized the word “Chanukkah” into “Hanukkah.”

If, in the movie, any of them pronounced it “L’chaim” with a /ch/ as in “church,” they should be hit. Spielberg would be rather unhappy.


This, and its variants “um. . .” and “er. . .” are typically “Internet speak” for “This is in response to something that you said about which you are absolutely clueless.”

Look, Jack, there was nothing in the message that indicated an English pronunciation of “ch” since it was not an English word–and I don’t think another soul with two brain cells to rub together was misled by it. You obviously didn’t see the movie, and apparently the penultimate line in the OP created a colossal WHOOOSH over your head. Did you think that it was saying that only Blacks and Jews had the (English) “ch” sound???