1. A baby; an infant.
2. An innocent or naive person.
3. Slang A person considered to be sexually attractive.
4. Informal Sweetheart; dear. Used as a term of endearment.
[Middle English, perhaps imitative of the syllable "ba" frequent in infant babbling.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.