late 14c., "infant, young child of either sex," short for baban (early 13c.), which probably is imitative of baby talk (see babble (v.)). In many languages the word means "old woman" (compare Russian babushka "grandmother," from baba "peasant woman"), and it is also sometimes a child's variant of papa "father."
The simplest articulations, and those which are readiest caught by the infant mouth, are the syllables formed by the vowel a with the primary consonants of the labial and dental classes, especially the former ; ma, ba, pa, na, da, ta. Out of these, therefore, is very generally formed the limited vocabulary required at the earliest period of infant life comprising the names for father, mother, infant, breast, food. [Hensleigh Wedgwood, "A Dictionary of English Etymology," 1859]
Crist crid in cradil, "moder, baba!" [John Audelay, c. 1426]
Now mostly superseded by its diminutive form baby. Used figuratively for "a childish person" from 1520s. Meaning "attractive young woman" is 1915, college slang (baby as "girl, young woman, girlfriend" is attested by 1839; see babe). Babe in arms is one so young it has to be carried; babe in the woods "an innocent among perils" is from 1795.
early 13c., damisele, "young, unmarried woman," especially a maiden of gentle birth, also "maid in waiting, handmaiden assisting a lady," from Anglo-French damaisele and Old French dameisele "woman of noble birth" (Modern French demoiselle "young lady"), modified (by association with dame) from earlier donsele, from Gallo-Roman *domnicella, diminutive of Latin domina "lady" (see dame). Archaic until revived by romantic poets, along with 16c.-17c. variant form damozel (which was used by Spenser). Damsel-fly for "dragon-fly" is by 1815, from a sense in French demoiselle.
"young kangaroo," 1839, sometimes said to be from a native Australian word joè, but more recently often said to be of unknown origin. Perhaps an extended use of Joey, the familiar form of the male proper name Joseph, for which Partridge lists many common or coarse meanings in 20c. Australian slang. Farmer and Henley ("Slang and Its Analogues") quote an 1887 article on "Australian Colloquialisms":
JOEY is a familiar name for anything young or small, and is applied indifferently to a puppy, or a kitten, or a child, while a WOOD-AND-WATER-JOEY is a hanger about hotels and a doer of odd jobs.
"beautiful young man," 1620s, probably via French Adonis (15c.), from Greek Adōnis, name of the youth beloved by Aphrodite, from Phoenician adon "lord," probably originally "ruler," from base a-d-n "to judge, rule." Adonai is the Hebrew cognate.
word-forming element meaning "bearing, producing," from Latin -parus (as in viviparus "bringing forth young alive"), from parire "to produce, bring forth" (from PIE root *pere- (1) "to produce, procure").
"to clasp, confine with a buckle, ring, clasp, or the like," especially of the sexual organs, to prevent copulation, 1620s, from Latin infibulatus, past participle of infibulare "to close with a clasp," from in- "on" (from PIE root *en "in") + fibula "a clasp, pin" (from PIE root *dheigw- "to stick, fix"). Related: Infibulated.
This operation was very generally practised in antiquity upon both young men and young women, but in later times chiefly upon the latter; and it is said to be still in use in some parts of the East. [Century Dictionary, 1902]