or ba·ba au rhum
Origin of babaFrench baba, baba (from Polish, old woman, round Easter cake, from the cake's resemblance to a pleated skirt) + au, with the + rhum, rum.
- A kind of sponge cake soaked in rum-flavoured syrup.
- (esp. among people of East European ancestry) A grandmother.
- An old woman, especially a traditional old woman from an eastern European culture.
- (esp. among people of Indian ancestry) A father.
- (Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism) A holy man, a spiritual leader.
- (India, dated) A baby, child.
- In baby talk, often used for a variety of words beginning with b, such as bottle or blanket.
As one of the first utterances many babies are able to say, baba (like mama, papa, and dada) has come to be used in many languages as a term for various family members:
- father: Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Marathi, Hindi, Bengali, Persian, Swahili, Turkish, Yoruba
- grandmother: many Slavic language (such as Bulgarian, Russian and Polish), Yiddish, Japanese
- baby: Afrikaans, Sinhala
These terms often continue to be used by English speakers whose families came from one of these cultures. In some cases, they may become more widely used in localities that have been heavily influenced by an immigrant community. Some senses were extensions of one of these family terms in the original languages ("old woman" from "grandmother", "holy man" from "father"). The "cake" sense comes through French, from Polish baba (“old woman”). The Middle Eastern word baba (as in Ali Baba) is rather a term of endearment, and is ultimately derived from Persian بابا (bābā, “father”) (from Old Persian pāpa; as opposed to the Arabic words ابو (’ábu) and أب (’ab), as well as the Turkish word ata; see also Papak) , and is linguistically related to the common European word papa and the word pope, having the same Indo-European origin.