Babe in the woods

a baby or child.
an innocent or inexperienced person.
(usually initial capital letter) Southern U.S. (used, often before the surname, as a familiar name for a boy or man, especially the youngest of a family.)

Sometimes Disparaging and Offensive. a girl or woman, especially an attractive one:
Her roommate is a real babe!
an attractive young man.
(sometimes initial capital letter) an affectionate or familiar term of address (sometimes offensive when used to strangers, casual acquaintances, subordinates, etc., especially by a male to a female).

babe in the woods, an innocent, unsuspecting person, especially one likely to be victimized by others:
Some highly informed people are mere babes in the woods where the stock market is concerned.
Also, babe in the wood.
a baby
(informal) a naive, gullible, or unsuspecting person (often in the phrase a babe in arms)
(informal) a young woman or man perceived as being sexually attractive

late 14c., short for baban (early 13c.), which probably is imitative of baby talk (cf. babble), however in many languages the cognate word means “old woman” (cf. Russian babushka “grandmother,” from baba “peasant woman”).

Crist crid in cradil, “moder, baba!” [John Audelay, c.1426]

Now mostly superseded by its diminutive form baby. Used figuratively for “a childish person” from 1520s. Meaning “attractive young woman” is 1915, college slang. Babe in the woods is from 1795.


A girl or woman, esp a sexually desirable one; chick, doll •Used almost entirely by men and considered offensive by many women; strong resurgence of use in the 1990s (1915+)

used of children generally (Matt. 11:25; 21:16; Luke 10:21; Rom. 2:20). It is used also of those who are weak in Christian faith and knowledge (1 Cor. 3:1; Heb. 5:13; 1 Pet. 2:2). In Isa. 3:4 the word “babes” refers to a succession of weak and wicked princes who reigned over Judah from the death of Josiah downward to the destruction of Jerusalem.

An innocent or very naive person who is apt to be duped or victimized, as in She was a babe in the woods where the stock market was concerned. The term originated in a popular ballad of 1595, “The Children in the Wood,” about two young orphans who are abandoned in a forest and die.


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