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Now mostly superseded by its diminutive form baby.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.
"the eating of feces," 1875, originally in reference to insane persons or animals, from Modern Latin coprophagus, from Greek koprophagos "dung-eating," from kopros "dung" (see copro-) + -phagos "eating" (from PIE root *bhag- "to share out, apportion; to get a share"). Related: Coprophagous "feeding upon dung or filth" (1826, in reference to beetles); coprophagic (1876); coprophagist (1887).
1530s, "grazing ground;" 1570s, "the business of feeding or grazing cattle," from Old French pasturage (13c, Modern French pâturage), from pasturer "to pasture" (see pasture (v.)). Middle English had pasturing (n.); late 14c.
"bind (an infant, etc.) with long strips of cloth," a mid-15c. alteration of Middle English swathlen (c. 1200), which is probably a frequentative form of Old English swaþian (see swathe). Related: Swaddled; swaddling.
Phrase swaddling clothes for "band of linen for swaddling an infant" is from Coverdale's 1535 translation of Luke ii.7.
Young children ... are still bandaged in this manner in many parts of Europe to prevent them from using their limbs freely, owing to a fancy that those who are left free in infancy become deformed. [Century Dictionary, 1891]
Wyclif used swathing-clothes (late 14c.).
c. 1200, "to baptize into the Christian church," from Old English cristnian "to baptize," literally "to make Christian," from cristen "Christian" (see Christian). Especially to baptize and name as an infant, hence "give a name to at baptism" (mid-15c.) and the general sense of "give a name to" anything, without reference to baptism (1530s). Related: Christened; christening.