I was attracted to the word of the headline, “The Corporate Daddy: Wal-Mart, Starbucks, and the fight against inequality” of an article in New York Times (June 19), which was written by Timothy Egan, New York Times' co-editor.

The article deals with Starbucks and Wal-Mart’s new labor incentive programs, in which Starbucks announced a company plan to reimburse the cost of college tuition for employees, and Wal-Mart known for its low labor wage, pledged to spend $50 million over three years to offset some of the cost for any employees who enrolled in a for-profit, online university in 2010.

Timothy Egan summarizes such efforts and roles of big companies for assisting their employees in advancing educational career levels in the word, “Corporate Daddy.”

Is “Corporate Daddy” easily understood by English speaking people in absence of the context? Is it gaining currency? Or is it just a one-off coinage?

If “Corporate daddy” applies to educational assistance of big business to their employees, can “Corporate mamma” be applicable to the companies who offer nursery assistance such as provision of in-house nursery facilities and services to their employees?

  • 1
    I feel this question is best answered by an American, because only a native American speaker can fully understand the nuances behind "Corporate Daddy". The book Corporate Daddy refers to a successful, unmarried, executive who finds himself fathering a baby girl, which is totally unrelated to the meaning intended in the article.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 21, 2014 at 10:35

3 Answers 3


Regarding the the expression 'Corporate Daddy' I think it can be easily understood as used in the context. Both 'corporate' and 'daddy' are two common words and their use in the article is meant to be mainly ironic.

There is no evidence of this expression in Google Books and the only reference I could find googling 'corporate daddy' is a book by Arlene James where the expression actually is used with a different meaning ( sort of yuppy) with respect to that of the article in 'The New York Times'.

I think that it could generate misunderstanding if not correctly contextualised. To sum up I 'd say that it is a quite understandable and effective expression used to convey the idea that a big corporation is acting like a caring father would with his own sons but I appears that there is no evidence that it is gaining currency.

Its use in this as in other contexts is to be considered author specific.


The headline writer (not necessarily Egan) is playing several senses of Daddy off against one another: the corporation as paternal, the solicitous father figure with your best interests at heart, but then also the paternal as paternalistic and patriarchal, and finally in the bullying sense of “Who’s your Daddy?”

So to answer your question, the readership of the New York Times will thus have a number of associations to draw upon in decoding the meaning of this term, and the decoding process will not be dead simple or infallible. No, it is not yet in widespread use (as Josh61 has confirmed); but to call it a “one-off coinage,” implying that no one has ever used this locution before in conversation, and that it is not going to catch on now, were overbold.

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    This does not answer the question. OP asked if the word was easily understood and if it was gaining currency or if it was a one-off coinage. You have not addressed any of these things.
    – user11550
    Commented Jun 21, 2014 at 5:00
  • There may also be an oblique allusion to the benevolence-with-attached-strings of the 'sugar daddy', a wealthy man who bestows material gifts on a (usually much younger) mistress or girlfriend.
    – Erik Kowal
    Commented Jun 21, 2014 at 5:06
  • @Mahnax I have added a 2nd ¶ to remedy these admitted defects in explicitness. Commented Jun 21, 2014 at 12:43

it's a sexist term. "daddy" is slang for a provider unearned financial gifts. "momma or mothering" in the same sexist slang refers to "shield" rather than to discipline an individual.

So your mothering them is a way of saying your not applying discipline as you would others (IE favoritism)

Is that your daddy? Refers to someone providing financially supporting someone in an romantic unmarried relationship. Can also be applied to children who are financially supported by parents. "She just totaled her BMW but daddies girl is getting a new one tomorrow." (implication she doesn't work)

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