baby doll

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a doll, especially one resembling a human baby.
Often baby dolls. Also called baby doll nightgown, baby doll pajamas. a garment for women or girls consisting of a hip-length top of delicate fabric often decorated with ruffles, ribbons, or lace, with a matching panty, worn for sleeping.
a short dress styled to resemble this.
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Also ba·by·doll (for defs. 2, 3) .

Origin of baby doll

First recorded in 1860–65
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What else does baby doll mean?

In the literal, a baby doll is just that—a toy baby doll.

But it is also a term of endearment for a woman and a style of high-waisted women’s dress and nightgown.

Where does baby doll come from?

Although perpetually young, baby dolls have been seen as far back as the 21st century BCE in the tombs of the Ancient Egyptians. The particular phrase baby doll, though, is recorded in English as early as 1725.

The baby doll dress emerged at the turn of the 20th century. It’s usually high-waisted with a short hemline, featuring short or no sleeves, presumably named because of its youthful appearance which were associated with garments toy baby dolls wore. A nightwear version became popular in the 1940s. On women, the baby doll look can suggest innocence, attractiveness, and even edginess, with 1990s rockers like Courtney Love, Baby Spice, or Babydoll in 2011’s Sucker Punch (Emily Browning) juxtaposing its girlish style with a punk attitude.

Evidenced since the early 1900s, baby doll as a term of endearment likens the object of someone’s affection to the cute toy. Baby doll was quite popular in early 1960s doo-wops with such songs as The Supreme’s 1965 hit “Baby Doll.” It keeps its currency in contemporary tunes, too, if N.E.R.D.’s 2001 “Baby Doll” has anything to say about it.

How is baby doll used in real life?

When not referring to a toy, dress, or negligee, baby doll is most often heard or read as an affectionate term along the lines of sweetheart or honey. But, be mindful that calling a woman you don’t know baby doll can be condescending, dismissive, or wolf-whistling.


This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

How to use baby doll in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for baby doll

/ (ˈbeɪbɪˌdɒl) /

  1. a short sleeveless nightgown or dress with a loose skirt
  2. (as modifier)a babydoll dress
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