Just a (simple) short question:

Why is the LaTeX root directory called texmf?

Is there a meaning of the mf ending?

  • 1
    Thanks, though I still prefer, textmf-dist = "TeX Motha-F***ing Distribution" Jan 30, 2020 at 17:53

3 Answers 3


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? Oct 15, 2012 at 12:02
  • 11
    I'd prefer a longer answer.
    – egreg
    Oct 15, 2012 at 12:14
  • 1
    @ガベージコレクタ: How about: 'TeX & Metafont' ? :)
    – Count Zero
    Oct 15, 2012 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  • The link is outdated and shows a "Not found" now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, 2018 at 21:33
  • 1
    @evaristegd thanks for the ping, they must have re-organised, I replaced the link with a working one. May 8, 2018 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:) May 8, 2018 at 22:29
  • @DavidCarlisle Oops, didn't see the other answers. Sorry. May 8, 2018 at 22:32

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