What It Means To Be A 'Zaddy' + Examples Of The Top Hollywood Zaddies

No, it's not jazz-related.

zaddy meaning Kathy Hutchins, lev radin, Denis Makarenko / Shutterstock

Ah the internet, how do I love thee? I would count the ways but it would take too long, if I'm honest, so I'll focus on just one of its countless positive qualities.

When it comes to slang, the internet is the place to go to learn all of the newest words out there, find out what they mean, and figure out how the heck to use them without looking like a total idiot. 

One of the latest words to catch my eye that I wasn't sure I could use IRL: Zaddy.


What is a zaddy?

To me, as a child of the late 1990s and early aughts, the word just conjured up images of men in zoot suits during that blessedly short-lived period of time in the early 2000s when swing dance music made a brief and hellacious comeback.

But if you have seen the word zaddy before, you probably already know that even if you're wearing the slickest fedora ever seen and an attractive man, that doesn't guarantee that you're zaddy material.

According to Urban Dictionary, a zaddy is "A fine, handsome and sexy ass intelligent man that makes you smile and drip every time you see him."

In a relationship, a zaddy is someone who "knows how to handle business in and out of the bedroom."


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I first spotted the word on Instagram in the comments section of some pretty hot posts. The pictures featured men who weren't just good-looking, but men who were incredibly stylish, charming.

The commenters would all remark on different things about them, but the bottom line was this: if you were a hot man who also has killer sartorial know-how, you're a zaddy.


As many internet slang terms do, zaddy became so widely used that even the Merriam-Webster dictionary took note of it, calling it a "word to watch" and making a valiant attempt at defining it as an attractive and fashionable person.

The word "zaddy" itself is actually a phonetically created fusion of the words "swag" and "daddy." 

The "sw" of swag turns into a "zzz" sound. Pop that in front of the "addy" from daddy, and a brand new word to describe that total slice of hotness in your grocery store who is always wearing a pocket square is born, my friends. 

The term is so big that it's the title of a song by rapper Ty Dolla $ign, which describes a charming and self-confident man.


What is the difference between zaddy, daddy, and sugar daddy?

As Merriam-Webster hilariously explains, while a daddy is typically an attractive older man, neither age nor parental status has any influence on whether someone is a zaddy. Instead, the zaddy label comes down to fashion sense and that certain swag that you can almost feel as he walks by.

Likewise, while a sugar daddy could be a zaddy, they're not always one and the same — it all comes down to the drip.

What is a female zaddy?

The term zaddy is gender-neutral. So while it might be tempting to call a female zaddy a cougar, MILF, or sugar mama, like the terms zaddy, daddy, and sugar daddy, they're not always interchangeable.

So the next time you come across that woman who's just oozing sex appeal, don't hesitate to call her zaddy.


Where did the word zaddy come from?

Celebs have been using this word for a while now, particularly celebs like Zayn Malik, who some claim actually invented the term. He did not.

His name just happens to start with Z and also he has used the word himself in his various social media captioning endeavors. (My name is Becca and I say the word "because." That does not mean that I invented that word. That is not how word invention works.)

If we want to get real Oxford English Dictionary with this noise, "Zaddy" is the title of a Ty Dolla $ign song from 2016, and that's when the word really blew up in the cultural zeitgeist.

It's generally believed that "Zaddy" is actually AAVE (African-American Vernacular English) — you know, like other slang words people love to use like "lit" "shade" and "bae."


So you want to try and use it yourself out there and not worry that the teens are going to brutalize you for your incorrect usage? I feel you (we'll cover that later).

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List of Hollywood Zaddies

Now that we're clear on the meaning of zaddy, you can probably picture some in your head. In fact, there are some universally accepted celebrity zaddies, like:

Pedro Pascal

Zayn Malik

Ryan Reynolds

Idris Elba

Chris Hemsworth

Mahershala Ali

Ruby Rose

Henry Golding

Christopher Meloni

Harry Styles

Jason Momoa

Oscar Isaac

How to Use Zaddy in a Sentence

1. "Zaddy, zaddy, he can be my daddy any day!"


2. "Did you see Richard's new lime-colored loafers? I'm getting serious zaddy vibes."

3. "Don't look now but there's a zaddy with the most immaculate beard I've ever seen coming this way!"

4. "I don't want a scrub, I want a guy who is 100% zaddy."

5. "Yeah, he's got a nice face but he's always wearing basketball shorts. I want a zaddy!"

6. "My boyfriend got dressed up to go out to dinner last night and I was like, 'Well hello, zaddy!'"

7. "This bar is amazing — nothing but zaddies as far as the eye can see!"

8. "Not only are his eyes blue but he actually owns Vuitton luggage like a real-life zaddy!"

9. "Just because he's a zaddy doesn't mean he has his life figured out — just his closet and his skincare regime."


10. "Don't judge a zaddy by his cover... even if the cover is brushed suede and cheekbones so high they could cut melon."

Now that you're well-versed in all things zaddy, get out there and see if you can spot any guys who match that description out in the wild. Or at the very least, zaddy it up when it comes to getting your Insta-flirt on!

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a freelance writer and the former Senior Editor of Pop Culture at Newsweek with a passion for lifestyle, geek news, and true crime.