We Had to Define ‘Zaddy’ for Christopher Meloni

In 2011, Christopher Meloni departed Law and Order: Special Victims Unit after 12 seasons with the drama. Away from television, he took on more film roles, including a stepfather in director Marielle Heller’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl. During production, an odd thing happened. “There was a moment when we were filming and this fan came up to [Meloni] and asked to take a picture of his butt,” Heller told Men’s Health for Meloni’s September cover story. “[Meloni] posed in a funny way, then turned to me with this sly smile and said, ‘There’s kind of a thing about my butt. People are really into it.’”

Into it may now be an understatement.“My ass is [having a cultural moment],” Meloni tells us. As are his biceps. As are his cobalt blue eyes. Heck, they should have been having a decades-long moment. Still, Meloni’s time has finally come. He’s just entered his 60s and recently found himself the object of a current flavor of paternal objectification. This is Christopher Meloni’s Zaddy Moment.

What is a Zaddy? Meloni asks us. “I just thought it was a cutie thing.”

The neologism can be traced to 2016 uses by Blac Chyna when referring to her then boyfriend, Rob Kardashian, as well as musician Ty Dolla $ign’s song “Zaddy,” released that same year. The usage of the term is generally reserved for attractive older men, though it doesn’t need to be age-dependent. It’s also not used just for conventional attraction, but rather features of attractiveness, like confidence and fashionableness. The term is generally intuitive and subjective, though the internet can sometimes agree on appropriate examples. Christopher Meloni is one such example. Zaddy implies sexiness, but a sexiness that is ineffable. In other words: you know it when you see it, or rather, when you feel it.

“How much am I allowed to taste of this fruit?” Meloni asks after the definition is explained. “How much am I allowed to enjoy this?” Who’s to say? Zaddiness has no number.

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