or rock·a·bye

[ rok-uh-bahy ]
/ ˈrɒk əˌbaɪ /
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(used to settle a baby or child down to sleep.)
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What else does rock-a-bye mean?

Rock-a-bye is a phrase from the folk lullaby “Rockabye Baby.” 

It’s also the title of a popular electronic song released in 2016 by Clean Bandit.

Where does rock-a-bye come from?

Some people say that the original rhyme for the lullaby “Rock-a-bye Baby” was written all the way back in the 1500s, but it was first printed in Mother Goose’s Melody, a book of nursery rhymes, in 1765.

The word rock-a-bye calls up the rocking motion a caretaker might do when trying to get a baby to sleep as well as bye-bye, suggesting nursery talk for “good night.”

In 2016, the English electronic band Clean Bandit released their smash hit “Rockabye” featuring artists Sean Paul and Anne-Marie. It topped multiple international charts and, as of 2018, its video almost had 2 billion views on YouTube. “Rockabye” is about a woman falling on hard times but still needing to provide for her child. The chorus goes something like this:

So, rockabye baby, rockabye
I’m gonna rock you
Rockabye baby, don’t you cry
Somebody’s got you.

How is rock-a-bye used in real life?

Rock-a-bye is often used to mean the lullaby, “Rockabye Baby.” Rock-a-bye is also closely associated with lullabies and sweet dreams more generally.

Since “Rockabye” (2016 version) was such a big hit, it’s often talked about. It is seen as one of the breakout songs for singer Anne-Marie. People also love to post the text for its poignant lyrics on social media.

More examples of rock-a-bye:

“I heard “Rockabye” and absolutely fell in love with it. It’s such an incredible song—the fact that you can just dance to it and sounds really fun, but then the actual subject is about a single parent loving their child…it just blows my mind. I think more subjects like that need to be spoken about in music.”
—Anne-Marie quoted by Dale Kawashima, Songwriter Universe, September, 2018


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 rock-a-bye in a sentence