Just a (simple) short question:

Why is the LaTeX root directory called texmf?

Is there a meaning of the mf ending?

  • Thanks, though I still prefer, textmf-dist = "TeX Motha-F***ing Distribution" – jessexknight Jan 30 '20 at 17:53

From A Directory Structure for TeX files, 2.2 Rooting the tree:

In this document, we shall designate the root TDS directory by texmf (for “TEX and METAFONT”). We recommend using that name where possible, but the actual name of the directory is up to the installer.


It is short for TeX and Metafont.

  • 4
    +1 can you make it shorter? – kiss my armpit Oct 15 '12 at 12:02
  • 9
    I'd prefer a longer answer. – egreg Oct 15 '12 at 12:14
  • 1
    @ガベージコレクタ: How about: 'TeX & Metafont' ? :) – Count Zero Oct 15 '12 at 12:15

This name was in fact used as a possible name in the very first message to the Tex directory structure list


So I think it must have been the existing name in web2c-TeX/kpathsea but I can't recall exactly.

  • The link is outdated and shows a "Not found" now – evaristegd May 8 '18 at 21:33
  • 1
    @evaristegd thanks for the ping, they must have re-organised, I replaced the link with a working one. – David Carlisle May 8 '18 at 21:58
  • @NicolaTalbot oh yes, It looks like I was concentrating on "why" (as in who suggested it) and forgot to answer the main part of what it stood for. That's probably why Heiko got the tick:) – David Carlisle May 8 '18 at 22:29
  • @DavidCarlisle Oops, didn't see the other answers. Sorry. – Nicola Talbot May 8 '18 at 22:32

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