"baby" as a word of endearment

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"baby" as a word of endearment

Post by Cookie » Thu Feb 22, 2007 7:41 pm

Hello all .I have gone to the extent of joining this elite site in order to try to find the origins ( as far as possible ) to just one word.I have tried other avenues but can`t seem to get any satisfactory response.I may have missed another site so if anyone can redirect me fine .If not this is the word i want the history on :-"baby" when spoken as a word of endearment almost exclusively in U.S.A. until very recently ,when it seems to be taking a foothold in the U.K.,usually in it`s other form "babe".I`ve asked many of my American friends and they seem to be at a total loss too ! I did think that the word was newly adopted in 1950`s but it is used back before then ,as i`ve heard it used in some of the old b/w talking movies of Laurel and Hardey !.That takes it back to at least 1930`s.There`s no doubt in my mind that it was adopted in the U.S.A/ so it`s not that old really ...it`s expressed at both sexes but not used by male to male if i`m correct ?It`s used right across America so it`s not a "local " word to any State or area.That`s a start,i hope i can be lucky and find the roots to "baby" .Thanks all
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"baby" as a word of endearment

Post by gdwdwrkr » Thu Feb 22, 2007 8:21 pm

Honey chil', honey baby, honey lamb, honey pie....who doesn't love a baby? ("Nobody loves me but my mother.....and she could be jivin' too.)
This one's gonna go waaayyyy back.
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"baby" as a word of endearment

Post by dalehileman » Thu Feb 22, 2007 8:32 pm

Cookie, welcome. Try Googling (Advanced Search) as follows; in the all box,

babe baby

and in the at least one box,

intitle:slang intitle:vernacular intitle:colloquialisms intitle:idioms intitle:patois intitle:argot

Thereafter the latter entry will be available in a drop down

Easier, you might try also Googling as follows:

babe baby words origins
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"baby" as a word of endearment

Post by AnnaStrophic » Thu Feb 22, 2007 8:45 pm

The online etymology dictionary dates it back to at least 1901: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=baby

The OED may have an earlier, specific citation but the print's gotten too small in my compact edition.
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"baby" as a word of endearment

Post by Cookie » Fri Feb 23, 2007 12:04 am

Hello again .Many thanks for the response so far.As you may have guessed i`m not a literary person and my vocabulary isn`t as superb as most i`ve seen on this site but i was so perplexed by the origins of the word that it seemed logical to ask people who are ,or excell in Language Origins.It is such a common word in America i can hardly believe that it doesn`t have an origin ! or that the origin is vague even.The whole Nation of North America has been using this word for many years in everyday conversation so i`m sure it must have evolved fairly quickly( am i right to think that way ?).I`ve checked the site link given by...(where is the refernce page for me to see who wrote it ? :() and find it hard to understand how a word meaning "an old lady" can be even gradually changed to meaning " a beautiful young woman " !.Are there any more examples of this occuring in common use today ?There is another word which is,yet again ,an Americanism and only used there today,once again as an endearment term."Honey".In this case though ,even with my limited knowledge,i canfigure out that it derives from the well known noun "honey" which is the sweet nectar which bees produce .Hence,to flatter ones partner ,one might wish to compare them with something very sweet/tasty ...honey ?.A childish person or an old granny being used as an endearing term for ones partner ? i don`t think so !hey ,please keep the responses coming in ,i need to know this history as far back as possible for the sake of my mental well being :).
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"baby" as a word of endearment

Post by gdwdwrkr » Fri Feb 23, 2007 12:17 am

Don't crumble, cookie! You've found the land of milk and honey!
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"baby" as a word of endearment

Post by Cookie » Fri Feb 23, 2007 12:37 am

Hi gdwdwrkr,i may also be on the gravy train eh ?;).To tell more of the "baby" story i correspond via the NET to many Americans.That`s how i came to realise that the word "baby" is in more common usage there than the word "darling " or "sweetheart".I belong to a site which has a music thread and it dawned on me how many songs have "baby" in the title or lyrics,not only American songs too !.In fact long before baby started to be used over here the Brits were using "baby" in their songs;check Beatles,Billy Fury,The Stones ,any British singer.song writer you care to and they use baby ( in it`s endearing manner) in their songs ,even though it wasn`t being used in everyday speech then.The term isn`t entirely without ambiguity though ,as i note that ,although American women call just about everyone "baby" ;children,parents,spouses,friends,me even ! the men are more reserved and only seem to use the term to or at a female of the species,even their own children(i.e. they don`t call their sons "baby" ).I love the term,to be honest,especially if it`s said by a woman from the Deep South ....it has a meaningful ring to it .More responses please!
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"baby" as a word of endearment

Post by Wizard of Oz » Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:07 am

.. Cookie god is coming .. in fact I think I hear his footsteps right now ... *listens for Ken's etymological stompers* .. yep getting closer .........

WoZ of Aus 23/02/07
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"baby" as a word of endearment

Post by gdwdwrkr » Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:09 am

austin powers
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"baby" as a word of endearment

Post by Ken Greenwald » Fri Feb 23, 2007 5:08 am

Brian, Before asking a question try using the site search function at the top of the page. This question was discussed under calling your partner "baby", which you could find by using Search For: baby, Search In: Subject only.
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Ken G – February 22, 2007
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"baby" as a word of endearment

Post by Cookie » Fri Feb 23, 2007 10:58 am

i`m sorry KG,i had tried the "search" function( please forgive me i am new to this site you know ?).It didn`t throw back anything connected with the "baby" i am interested in but your link does.Although it does shed light onto a history of the word with regard to odd mentions of it in various books/incidents I have to agree with the questioner who wasn`t fully satisfied with the format of the answer ? It would have been nice to see a smoother progression from it`s beginnings until the present time .It seems the word progressed in "blips" until at some point ,in the 1960`s according to the answer ,everyone in America began to use it on a daily basis .At which point the subject suddenly stops!maybe i shouldn`t ask but is this a feature of this site that people dump odd references to a word and then it`s an end to the subject ?Thanks to all those who posted,and thanks Ken for tthe closest answer i`ll probably ever get .I may hang around the site a while in case another word /phrase happens to tease my knowledge buds.
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"baby" as a word of endearment

Post by gdwdwrkr » Fri Feb 23, 2007 3:32 pm

Hate to break it to you, cookie, but there was never a time when everyone in America said baby. The vast majority of Americans have NEVER said baby.
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"baby" as a word of endearment

Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri Feb 23, 2007 4:06 pm

In fact, most have never even eaten one.
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"baby" as a word of endearment

Post by Ken Greenwald » Fri Feb 23, 2007 7:17 pm

Brian, I think that what I have presented is about as good as you are going to find. What I did in this particular instance was list the earliest appearance in print I could unearth for each meaning of the word as it developed. The quotes don't appear continuous because if I listed everything I actually found in between, the posting would extend from here to eternity without adding much in the way of understanding of the word's development. You seems to be searching for some magic missing links, which I don't think you're going to find. But good luck in your quest anyway.
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"baby" as a word of endearment

Post by Cookie » Fri Feb 23, 2007 7:29 pm

Sorry Ken ,i wasn`t criticising your research ,far from it .Like the previous questioner on this topic i would like to have seen the logic in each stage of word change .An example ,to help explain my thinking line:--If you search for the word "babby" i`m fairly confident that you`ll get a history which goes back a few hundred years to a small area of England ,Birminham.I happen to live about 25 miles from B`ham (UK) and i was brought up saying "babby" with reference to a baby ( young child).it`s really just an alternative pronunciation of "baby".History is well documented considering it is very local.I would loved to have seen a similar running history of the Americanism "baby" as a term of endearment.It isn`t very old in word terms and it`s use is so common in America and now spreading that it would be nice to be able to pinpoint it`s early stages yes ? Thanks for your answer ,as i said before i probaby won`t get any further ,you obviously did a lot of research on it Ken.
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