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bambino

[ bam-bee-noh, bahm-; Italian bahm-bee-naw ]
/ bæmˈbi noʊ, bɑm-; Italian bɑmˈbi nɔ /
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noun, plural bam·bi·nos, Italian, bam·bi·ni [bahm-bee-nee]. /bɑmˈbi ni/.

a small child or baby.
an image of the infant Jesus.

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Origin of bambino

1755–65; <Italian, equivalent to bamb(o) childish (perhaps originally nursery word) + -ino diminutive suffix
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

VOCAB BUILDER

What does bambino mean?

Bambino is the Italian word for a “male child or baby.” It can also be used as a nickname or term of endearment for a man more generally.

Where does bambino come from?

Bambino means “little child” or “baby” in Italian. It is used to refer to boys, with bambina its female counterpart. Bambinos or bambini can refer to a group of children or babies.

Fun facts: the Italian bambino is a diminutive form of bambo, meaning “silly,” and bimbo comes from bambino. It’s first recorded in English in the 1760s, when it especially referred to the Christ Child, or Baby Jesus.

Bambino was popularized in the U.S. thanks to George Herman Ruth, Jr., better known as Babe Ruth, the baseball player often considered the greatest of all time. While he wasn’t Italian himself, Babe Ruth played in New York in the 1920–30s, home to many Italian immigrants at the time. They nicknamed him The Great Bambino, bambino calling up babe. The Boston Red Sox were also hexed with The Curse of the Bambino after Ruth was sold by the team in 1919–20. Fans jokingly blamed the Red Sox 86-year World Series drought on the curse.

How is bambino used in real life?

Bambino is used when talking about male children and babies, especially by Italians and people of Italian heritage in places like New York City.

English speakers may also use bambino as a term of endearment for a male friend …

It can also work as a pet name for a significant other, similar to baby.

More examples of bambino:

“The girls in the neighborhood would say ‘Sonny Pacino, the lover bambino.’ The boys would say, ‘Sonny Pacino, the bastard bambino.”
—Ken Lipper quoted by Yahoo! Entertainment, September 2014

Note

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.

Example sentences from the Web for bambino

British Dictionary definitions for bambino

bambino
/ (bæmˈbiːnəʊ) /

noun plural -nos or -ni (-niː)

informal a young child, esp an Italian one
a representation of the infant Jesus

Word Origin for bambino

C18: from Italian
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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