Green’s Dictionary of Slang

mama n.

also mamma

1. (orig. US black) a woman, esp. when sexy and attractive.

[US] song title in AS VII:4 (1932) 243: I’m a Real Kind Mamma, Lookin’ for a Lovin’ Man.
[US]G.S. Schuyler Yellow Peril in Hatch & Hamalian Lost Plays of Harlem Renaissance (1996) 52: You’re not the only nigger in Harlem that wants a good looking mama!
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 19 Aug. [synd. col.] Some mamma, and can she neck!
[US]J.T. Farrell ‘Spring Evening’ in Fellow Countrymen (1937) 169: There actually wasn’t a decent-lookin’ mama up there all summer.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Young Manhood in Studs Lonigan (1936) 379: That mamma wouldn’t two-time anything in pants. She’s a tramp.
[US]‘Mae West in “The Hip Flipper”’ [comic strip] in B. Adelman Tijuana Bibles (1997) 90: And where those mamas finished / Is where she’s begun .
[US]Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson ‘Kidney Stew Blues’ [lyrics] Crazy about you baby, but I just ain’t got the price / You’re a high class mama, so I guess it ain’t no dice.
[US]W. King ‘The Game’ in King Black Short Story Anthol. (1972) 304: Hey, mamma, you putty thang ... shorr look foine.
[US](con. 1940s) E. Thompson Tattoo (1977) 135: Them big black mamas got muscles in their twats.
[UK](con. 1960s) A. Frewin London Blues 96: Sonny said he would be happy to take over whenever they wanted a black guy to give it to the white mamas.
[UK]Guardian Guide 14–20 Aug. 6: A pair of middle-aged red-hot mamas.

2. (orig. US black) a girlfriend or wife, esp. in direct address.

[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 56: Ya gotta see mama every night or you can’t see mama at all.
[US]M. West Sex (1997) I i: Oh, mamma, you don’t know what you’re missing.
[US]C. McKay Home to Harlem 76: That crechur is mah ma-ma now.
[US]J. Lait Put on the Spot 25: Nobody’s stealin’ me from you, mamma—an’ nobody’s shootin’ me out o’ your arms.
[US]Big Joe Turner ‘TV Mama’ [lyrics] Yeah, she’s my TV Mama, one with the big, wide screen.
[US]M. Braly On the Yard (2002) 22: At the end of the block a woman crossed the mouth of the alley. ‘Goodbye, Mama,’ Henry Jackson said.
[US]H. Feldman et al. Angel Dust 142: I’ll get you some dust, mama.
[US]R. Price Breaks 339: He kept calling the middle-aged black waitress ‘Mama.’ As in ‘how you be, Mama’.
[UK]P. Baker Blood Posse 69: Tell it like it is, Mama.
[US]A. Steinberg Running the Books 7: Demands to make illicit calls [...] to ‘my man on the outs’, to mommas and babymommas.

3. a feminine lesbian.

[US]G. Legman ‘Lang. of Homosexuality’ Appendix VII in Henry Sex Variants.
[US]Guild Dict. Homosexual Terms 29: mama (n.): The feminine type of lesbian usually living with a papa or daddy (q.v.).

4. anything considered very powerful, large or admirable.

[US]W. Guthrie Seeds of Man (1995) 245: Why don’t you [...] roll me up a nice big fat mama cigarette?
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Mar. 4: mama – anything unusually large or difficult: The exam Monday is going to be a real mama.
[US](con. 1969–70) D. Bodey F.N.G. (1988) 244: (of a machine gun] I’m keeping mama wide open all night long.

5. attrib. use of sense 4.

[US]W. Guthrie Seeds of Man (1995) 245: Why don’t you [...] roll me up a nice big fat mama cigarette?
[US]G. Tate ‘Atomic Dog’ in Flyboy in the Buttermilk (1992) 30: Then Clinton struck the mama load with 1975’s Mothership Connection. That was the turning point, all right.

6. (US) an effeminate male homosexual; also as camp self-description.

[US]T. Runyon In For Life 99: I’ve seen Papa do without smoking tobacco to buy Mama a wrist-watch.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 131: mama 1. person who assumes the wifely position in a gay marriage. 2. (pron) oneself; the first person singular though used in the third person.
[US](con. 1940s) C. Bram Hold Tight (1990) 185: I [...] ’jaculate my jack / Into some seafood mama.
[US]D.H. Sterry Chicken (2003) 140: Mamma needs a new pair of shoes.

7. (orig. Hell’s Angel) a woman who rides with the Hell’s Angels and is available for sex and allied indignities but is distinguished from the old ladies (the actual girlfriends of the riders); the term is an abbr. of Let’s go make someone a mama.

[US]H.S. Thompson Hell’s Angels (1967) 177: There are mamas at any Angel gathering [...] they are available at any time, in any way, to any Angel, friend or favoured guest – individually or otherwise. They also understand that the minute they don’t like the arrangement they can leave.
[US]N. Thornburg Cutter and Bone (2001) 144: Valerie pleaded with him to shut up. ‘That’s good advice, mama,’ the fat biker said.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett You Wouldn’t Be Dead for Quids (1989) 150: A sullen gang of bikies [...] and their mammas.
[UK]N. Cohn Yes We have No 293: Apprentice sweet mamas, barely past puberty.
[Aus]L. Redhead Cherry Pie [ebook] I’d seen those sixties bikie films [...] I didn’t want to be anyone’s momma.

8. (US prison) an inmate who poses as a woman.

[US]C. Shafer ‘Catheads [...] and Cho-Cho Sticks’ in Abernethy Bounty of Texas (1990) 209: mama, n. – name given to a female impersonator.

9. a masculine lesbian.

[US]Maledicta VI:1+2 (Summer/Winter) 147: From them she might pick up and more to startle than identify with her sisters use words and expressions such as [...] mama (oldfashioned term for daddy).
[US]B. Gifford Night People 4: Them big ol’ mamas been usin’ me for toilet paper.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

mama bear (n.) [bear n. (7)]

(US) a policewoman, esp. in the Highway Patrol.

[US]L. Dills CB Slanguage.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.
‘CB Sl. and Technical Terms 1962–98’ from Woody’s World Of CB at CBGazette.com [Internet] Mama Bear – Policewoman.
mama’s boss (n.)

(US black) usu. female usage, a husband or favourite boyfriend.

[US]M.H. Boulware Jive and Sl. n.p.: Mama’s boss ... Best boyfriend.

In phrases

did your mama have any sons that lived?

(US black) a phr. used by a woman to rebuff sexual cat-calling by men as she passes them.

[US](con. 1940s) Deuce Ofay Productions ‘The Jive Bible’ at JiveOn.com [Internet] Did yo mama have any sons that lived??