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Surname Babe - Meaning and Origin

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Babe: What does the surname Babe mean?

The last name Babe is an English surname. It is derived from the Middle English word ‘babe’, which itself is derived from Old English words meaning ‘child’ or ‘infant’. It is most likely to have been a nickname surname given to people who either had a sweet disposition, were very young, or had a characteristic of an infant.

The Babe surname is found across England and Ireland. In census records it can be found in counties such as Suffolk, Norfolk, Suffolk, Yorkshire, and Essex in England. In Irish counties such as Clare, Cork, Galway, Tipperary and Kings it was mentioned mainly in the mid-19th century.

The spread of the name Babe could also be linked to the Scandinavian Viking invasions of Northern and Eastern England during the 9th and 10th centuries, where the Vikings brought names like ‘Babe’ to new areas of the British Isles.

Due to its unique meaning, the surname Babe continues to hold its charm. In more modern times, Babe has been used as a term of endearment, especially between family and close friends. Some notable people with the surname Babe include English Rugby union player, David Babe, as well as Scottish actress and television director, Shauna Babe.

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Babe: Where does the name Babe come from?

The last name Babe is most commonly found in France, where it is one of the most frequently found surnames. It is also found in smaller numbers in the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Australia, and other countries across the world. It is thought to have been brought to France by Basque immigrants, due to its similarity to the Basque term, Babet, which means “child.”

The majority of individuals bearing the surname Babe in France trace their ancestry to the central Massif region. There, the name is especially common in the rural towns of Auvergne, Limousin, and Poitou-Charentes. Immigrants from these areas to colonial North America probably carried the name with them, and some Babe families can still be found in the U.S. today, particularly in the Midwest and Northeast.

The Babe surname in France is often used as a nickname. Almost every third-person known as Babe in France is not related to anyone else by this surname. It is believed that the name is often chosen for children as a mark of affection, due to its signifying a “child.”

In the other countries where it is found, the surname is generally believed to have come from the Basque region and can be seen as a confirmation of the presence of Basque immigrants in that area.

Variations of the surname Babe

The surname Babe has several variants, spellings, and surnames of the same origin.

Babe can be spelled phonetically in many different ways, including Baab, Baabbe, Bab, Babbe, Babb, and Babbee.

Babe is also a variant of the surnames Beeb, Bebbe, Bibe, Bibee, and Biba. This last spelling is especially popular in France and is also the source of the Italian surname Biba, which is pronounced similarly.

The name Babe may also derive from the medieval German given name Babo, which is derived from the possibly Slavic word ‘baba’, meaning ‘father’ or ‘grandfather’. Variants of the given name Babo can be found in the German surnames Boeber, Boebers, Boeberst, Beber, and Bebers.

In Finland, the surname Babe can also refer to the medieval name Baeffa or Baeffe, which was derived from the Old Norse personal name Bafi. This name was originally from the Swedish province of Baef, and was also formerly found in England as Beef. Variant spellings of Baeffa/Baeffe include Baeve, Bave, Baef, and Bav.

Finally, Babe is often found as an Anglicised version of the Gaelic surname Ó Beacháin, or Mac Beacháin, meaning “son of the one who descended from a young boy.” This surname was derived from the Old Irish personal name Beccán. Variants of the Ó Beacháin, or Mac Beacháin surname include O’Beagan, Bagen, Beagan, Beggan, Beighan, Beighin, and Bein.

Altogether, the surname Babe has numerous variants, spellings, and surnames of the same origin, making it an interesting name to trace.

Famous people with the name Babe

  • Babe Ruth: was an American professional baseball player whose career in Major League Baseball spanned from 1914-1935. Nicknamed the 'Sultan of Swat', he set numerous career records, some of which still stand today.
  • Babe Didrikson Zaharias: was an American athlete who achieved success in multiple sports, including basketball, track and field, baseball, and golf. She was one of the most prominent sportswomen of her era and a symbol of success for female athletes.
  • Babe Parilli: was an American football quarterback who played in the All-America Football Conference, the American Football League, and the National Football League. He was a three-time AFL All-Star quarterback and a one-time AFL champion.
  • Bobby "Babe" Pratt: was a Canadian professional ice hockey defenceman who played in the National Hockey League from 1935 to 1949. He was a four-time All-Star and a three-time Stanley Cup champion.
  • Larry "Babe" Wadkins: was an American professional golfer who played on the PGA Tour in the 1950s and 1960s. He won fifteen PGA Tour events and two major championships during his career.
  • Bruce "Babe" Webb: was an American football player who was a halfback for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League from his rookie season of 1937 to 1940.
  • Bronko Nagurski Jr. Aka Babe: was an American Canadian football player for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. He was an All-Star for the Roughriders and is a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.

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