• synonyms


or ba·boo

[bah-boo](in India, especially under British rule)
  1. a Hindu title of address equivalent to Sir, Mr., or Esquire.
  2. a Hindu gentleman.
  3. a native Indian clerk who can write English.
  4. Usually Disparaging. any native Indian having only a limited knowledge of English.
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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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for babu

Historical Examples

  • “We never doubted that,” returned Babu with a touch of surprise in his tone.

    Blown to Bits

    R.M. Ballantyne

  • Babu Nilratan, the husband of Labanya, was a pleader at Buxar.

  • Perhaps the babu is the thing too much in India; they could do without him.

  • But enough of the babu; I cannot think how he got into my letter.

  • Many persons will overlook a small charge, and well the babu knows it.

British Dictionary definitions for babu


  1. (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
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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