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[beyb] /beɪb/
a baby or child.
an innocent or inexperienced person.
(usually initial capital letter) Southern U.S. (used, often before the surname, as a familiar name for a boy or man, especially the youngest of a family.)
  1. Sometimes Disparaging and Offensive. a girl or woman, especially an attractive one:
    Her roommate is a real babe!
  2. an attractive young man.
  3. (sometimes initial capital letter) an affectionate or familiar term of address (sometimes offensive when used to strangers, casual acquaintances, subordinates, etc., especially by a male to a female).
babe in the woods, an innocent, unsuspecting person, especially one likely to be victimized by others:
Some highly informed people are mere babes in the woods where the stock market is concerned.
Also, babe in the wood.
Origin of babe
early Middle English
1150-1200; 1915-20 for def 4; Middle English; early Middle English baban, probably nursery word in origin
1. toddler, infant, tot, nursling. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for babes
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Devote, then, ye mothers of Israel, devote your babes to piety and God!

  • The uncle of the babes in the wood could hardly have been more startled by the demand!

    Night and Morning, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • For the Greek word for babes is fools, which he opposes to the word wise men.

    The Praise of Folly Desiderius Erasmus
  • They are as simple as babes, and as little fitted to be landed in a strange country.

    Micah Clarke Arthur Conan Doyle
  • But they were like babes to handle, for their manners were perfect.

British Dictionary definitions for babes


a baby
(informal) a naive, gullible, or unsuspecting person (often in the phrase a babe in arms)
(informal) a young woman or man perceived as being sexually attractive
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for babes



late 14c., short for baban (early 13c.), which probably is imitative of baby talk (cf. babble), however in many languages the cognate word means "old woman" (cf. Russian babushka "grandmother," from baba "peasant woman").

Crist crid in cradil, "moder, baba!" [John Audelay, c.1426]
Now mostly superseded by its diminutive form baby. Used figuratively for "a childish person" from 1520s. Meaning "attractive young woman" is 1915, college slang. Babe in the woods is from 1795.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for babes



A girl or woman, esp a sexually desirable one; chick, doll •Used almost entirely by men and considered offensive by many women; strong resurgence of use in the 1990s (1915+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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