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or baboo

[bah-boo] /ˈbɑ bu/ (in India, especially under British rule)
a Hindu title of address equivalent to Sir, Mr., or Esquire.
a Hindu gentleman.
a native Indian clerk who can write English.
Usually Disparaging. any native Indian having only a limited knowledge of English.
Origin of babu
First recorded in 1875-80, babu is from the Hindi word bābū
Usage note
The term babu English refers to florid, overly polite, and unidiomatic English regarded as characteristic of native Indians who have limited proficiency in English. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for babus
Historical Examples
  • Once upon a time the babus of Nayanjore were famous landholders.

  • Once upon a time the babus at Nayanjore were famous landholders.

    Stories from Tagore Rabindranath Tagore
  • But, cried the Oriental in him, babus do not travel far to retail compliments.

    Kim Rudyard Kipling
  • Sahibs cannot distinguish one hillman from another, but babus have eyes for men—and women.'

    Kim Rudyard Kipling
  • The babus make beautiful accountants, and if we could only see it, a merciful Providence has made the Babu for figures and detail.

    From Sea to Sea Rudyard Kipling
  • No concessions to the clamour of the babus of Bengal will retain the loyalty of this country.

    Life in an Indian Outpost Gordon Casserly
  • We had a man killed in one of our forest villages at Mendabari recently; and our babus were held up the other day by a rogue.

    Life in an Indian Outpost Gordon Casserly
  • I heard he had told his friends that the babus of Nayanjore never craved a boon.

  • All we babus talk English to show off,' said Hurree, flinging his shoulder-cloth jauntily.

    Kim Rudyard Kipling
British Dictionary definitions for babus


(in India) a title or form of address more or less equivalent to Mr, placed before a person's full name or after his first name
Word Origin
Hindi, literally: father
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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