an infant or very young child.
a newborn or very young animal.
the youngest member of a family, group, etc.
an immature or childish person.
a human fetus.

Sometimes Disparaging and Offensive. a girl or woman, especially an attractive one.
a person of whom one is deeply fond; sweetheart.
(sometimes initial capital letter) an affectionate or familiar address (sometimes offensive when used to strangers, casual acquaintances, subordinates, etc., especially by a male to a female).
a man or boy; chap; fellow:
He’s a tough baby to have to deal with.
an invention, creation, project, or the like that requires one’s special attention or expertise or of which one is especially proud.
an object; thing:
Is that car there your baby?

of or suitable for a baby:
baby clothes.
of or like a baby; infantile:
baby skin.
small; comparatively little:
a baby car.
treating babies:
a baby doctor.
to treat like a young child; pamper.
to handle or use with special care; treat gently.
Contemporary Examples

This is just too much, all this babyish caterwauling from Mitch McConnell.
The Nuclear Senate Michael Tomasky July 14, 2013

Historical Examples

Her eyes are lovely; so babyish, yet so full of latent coquetry.
Portia Duchess

I didn’t quite like her asking that: it made me seem so babyish.
Peterkin Mary Louisa Molesworth

This state of things is childish—simply childish; or perhaps I ought to say babyish.
Springhaven R. D. Blackmore

She could not bear it to be thought that she was babyish or “silly.”
The Adventures of Herr Baby Mrs. Molesworth

He was so tickled by her babyish remorse that he made her say it again.
We Can’t Have Everything Rupert Hughes

I do not know why a velvet cap was despised, but it was; a cap with a tassel was babyish.
A Boy’s Town W. D. Howells

To stand on the words of the Regent—“every day”—would be a babyish quibble.
John Knox and the Reformation Andrew Lang

Lady Helen says you are the most babyish creature she has ever come across in her life.
Wild Heather L. T. Meade

White dimity with green ribbons; a yard or more of red-gold hair; babyish face.
Smith College Stories Josephine Dodge Daskam

noun (pl) -bies

a newborn or recently born child; infant
(as modifier): baby food

an unborn child; fetus
the youngest or smallest of a family or group

a newborn or recently born animal
(as modifier): baby rabbits

generally (derogatory) an immature person
(slang) a young woman or sweetheart: often used as a term of address expressing affection
a project of personal concern
be left holding the baby, to be left with the responsibility
throw the baby out with the bath water, to lose the essential element by indiscriminate rejection
(prenominal) comparatively small of its type: a baby car
verb (transitive) -bies, -bying, -bied
to treat with love and attention
to treat (someone) like a baby; pamper or overprotect

1753, from baby (n.) + -ish. Earlier in same sense was babish (1530s).

late 14c., babi, diminutive of baban (see babe + -y (3)). Meaning “childish adult person” is from c.1600. Meaning “youngest of a group” is from 1897. As a term of endearment for one’s lover it is attested perhaps as early as 1839, certainly by 1901; its popularity perhaps boosted by baby vamp “a popular girl,” student slang from c.1922. As an adjective, by 1750.

Baby food is from 1833. Baby blues for “blue eyes” recorded by 1892 (the phrase also was used for “postpartum depression” 1950s-60s). To empty the baby out with the bath (water) is first recorded 1909 in G.B. Shaw (cf. German das Kind mit dem Bade ausschütten). Baby’s breath (noted for sweet smell, which also was supposed to attract cats) as a type of flower is from 1897. French bébé (19c.) is from English.

“to treat like a baby,” 1742, from baby (n.). Related: Babied; babying.

baby ba·by (bā’bē)
A very young child; an infant.


A wife, girlfriend, or other cherished woman; also, less frequently, a husband, boyfriend, or cherished man: My baby don’t love me no more (1900s+)
Any cherished or putatively cherished person •A shortening of earlier warm baby (1900s+)
A mean and dangerous man; tough guy •Babe, ”a tough; a rowdy; blackguard,” is attested in the 1860s: I did not want them babies to think they had me under contract (1930s+)
A term of address for a man or a woman; bud, mac, pal •In stereotype, much used by show-business people: And this is maximum security, baby (1910+)
Anything regarded with special affection, admiration, pride, or awe: Those babies’ll turn on a dime/ What we had heard was the firing of those big babies a mile and a half from shore (1900+)
A thing referred to, esp something one does not know the name of; gadget, sucker: What’s this baby over here supposed to do? (1930s+)

Related Terms

bottle baby
see: throw out the baby with the bath water


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