n. Forwarded messages, jokes, lists, and other unsolicited noncommercial email messages sent by an individual to a large number of people.
In the online world, meatloaf refers to unsolicited mass e-mail sent out by an individual. These people post their personal rants and raves to an extensive mailing list compiled by collecting personal addresses from discussion groups, chat parties and so forth. These are then fired off at any time of the day or night, regardless of whether the receiver cares for what's inside. Linguistically, it is related to 'spam' — the term used for unsolicited e-mails used for marketing and advertising, except that meatloaf is 'home made'.
—“Lexicon,” The Herald, January 24, 2001
1999 (earliest)
On Nov. 30, The New York Times Co. fired 23 employees at its Norfolk (Va.) administrative center. The workers were accused of contributing to a hostile work environment because they repeatedly, over the course of several weeks, traded unsavory 'meatloaf': batches of unsolicited personal e-mail that in this case contained dirty jokes and nude pictures.
—Lorraine Woellert, “The Next E-Mail You Open Could Get You Fired,” BusinessWeek Online, December 09, 1999
Although this sense of meatloaf has been floating around cyberspace for a while, it only recently made the leap to the mainstream. In fact, the earliest citation I could muster dates back only to December 9, 1999.
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