What is the meaning of '4/5' in this phrase?

Azealia Banks' Insults Cardi B "You're illiterate, you're baby mama 4/5 to a man who has women crawling out of the woodworks with kids."

  • Where did you see tis? Can you give a link?
    – Mitch
    Sep 19 '18 at 16:58
  • @Mitch It's from an Instagram post: donkingjr.com/single-post/2018/05/13/… Sep 19 '18 at 17:10
  • This is probably written by an engineering student. They are expected to number the pages of their homework assignments in that fashion (4/5 means page four out of five).
    – user31341
    Sep 19 '18 at 17:12
  • This is "standard notation" for tweets or posts that are broken up into chunks due to space constraint so that the intended order is clear. This isn't American slang per se.
    – Yorik
    Sep 19 '18 at 17:46
  • 2
    @Yorik This was written in an Instagram comment, though, which are not limited to 280 characters like Tweets; the “4/5” bit also comes in the middle of the comment, not at the start or end. Overall, that doesn’t seem to be the intended meaning here (see The Photon’s answer and the comments to it for a more likely meaning). Sep 20 '18 at 21:02

I would read it as "4 out of 5", meaning there are 5 of something and this is the 4th (maybe the 4th best, maybe the 4th one chronologically) of them.

An equally valid reading would be "4 or 5" meaning this is either the 4th or 5th of an undetermined number of things (or baby mommas).

  • 2
    I think you're probably right about the essential meaning, but if I imagine it being spoken, I'd expect You're baby mama (number) 4 OR 5 [to some serial womaniser / with illegitimate kids all over the place]. Sep 19 '18 at 17:02
  • @FumbleFingers, fair enough, edited.
    – The Photon
    Sep 19 '18 at 17:14
  • 1
    @Fumble I think you’re spot on here. Cardi B’s husband, rapper Offset, had three children by three different women before his relationship to Cardi B, so Cardi is indeed the fourth baby mama to him. Azealia was presumably a bit fuzzy on the details and couldn’t remember whether Cardi was baby mama number four or five. Sep 20 '18 at 21:01
  • @JanusBahsJacquet: When I wrote the comment I was only really thinking about the semantics. Clearly there is a difference between 4 out of 5 and 4 or 5. But it's only just occurred to me now that using a slash there can be seen as equivalent to the way we both write and speak in, say, I upvote and/or downvote several ELU questions almost every day. Where on the semantic front I could say that's equivalent to and OR or, but in practice nobody ever enunciates the capitalised element there. And as I now realise, in rapid speech you might not in OP's example either. Sep 21 '18 at 12:34

/ has multiple meanings. Wikipedia lists about 25. As with any word that has multiple meanings (either with the same pronunciation or different) there is a risk of confusion as to how to read it and interpret it. This was confusing because a fraction is the most common meaning when / is placed between digits. As I am sure that 4 or 5 was the intended meaning, four/five would have been clearer (as the fraction would be written in full as four fifths). But Instagram is an environment where brevity is accepted and so we just have to accept "caveat lector" - the reader beware.

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