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to take charge of a child while the parents are temporarily away.
to baby-sit for (a child):
We’ve placed an ad for someone to baby-sit the youngsters in the evening.
to take watchful responsibility for; tend:
It will be necessary for someone to baby-sit the machine until it is running properly.
Contemporary Examples

Or, if you have children, you can get a babysitting bargain, since your teenager can book two clients in a single night.
In Defense of the 5 O’Clock Reservation Megan McArdle October 11, 2012

Beyond the psychological implications is the babysitting this level of fear requires.
Ebola Panic Is Worse Than the Disease Abby Haglage October 8, 2014

That fall he struck again, assaulting an 18-year-old college student who was babysitting three young children.
Why Police Think D.C.’s Rapist Could Be Back Christine Pelisek June 12, 2011

On that occasion, Carole was given the job of babysitting and it seems likely she will be called on again today.
Kate Out For First Time Tonight! Tom Sykes September 11, 2013

Back in the day, babysitting meant doling out some hard candy and popping a Disney flick into the VCR.
The Gangsta Grannies of YouTube The Daily Beast Video December 7, 2009

He’s just wooing Bella to get out of babysitting and changing diapers, obviously.
Battle of the Twilight Heartthrobs The Daily Beast June 22, 2010

Historical Examples

After a modest meal, she found that she had an hour before her babysitting assignment.
The Amazing Mrs. Mimms David C. Knight

When Mrs. Mimms returned from babysitting it was after midnight.
The Amazing Mrs. Mimms David C. Knight

Yes; with respect to Lee’s conduct while she was babysitting?
Warren Commission (8 of 26): Hearings Vol. VIII (of 15) The President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy

So I have another friend which I talked into babysitting for the baby.
Warren Commission (9 of 26): Hearings Vol. IX (of 15) The President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy

verb -sits, -sitting, -sat
(intransitive) to act or work as a baby-sitter


To attend and care for a child, or by extension, for anyone or anything: Which is why she has one of us baby-sitting twenty-four hours a day (1940s+)
To be a guide and companion to someone undergoing a psychedelic drug experience

[1960s+ narcotics; back formation from baby-sitter, ”nursemaid, nanny,” attested before 1940]


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