name of a Semitic solar deity worshiped, especially by the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, "with much license and sensuality" [Century Dictionary], late 14c., Biblical, from Late Latin Baal, Greek Baal, from Hebrew Ba'al, literally "owner, master, lord," a title applied to any deity (including Jehovah; see Hosea ii.16), but later a name of the particular Phoenician solar deity; from ba'al "he took possession of," also "he married;" related to or derived from the Akkadian god-name Belu (source of Hebrew Bel), name of Marduk.
"conventional, complacent, materialistic American businessman," 1923, from the name of the title character of Sinclair Lewis' novel (1922).
His name was George F. Babbitt. He was forty-six years old now, in April 1920, and he made nothing in particular, neither butter nor shoes nor poetry, but he was nimble in the selling of houses for more money than people could afford to pay. [Sinclair Lewis, "Babbitt," 1922]
Earlier in 19c. the name was used in metallurgy in reference to a type of soft alloy.
capital of Babylon, now a ruin near Hillah in Iraq, late 14c., from Late Latin, from Hebrew Babhel (Genesis xi), from Akkadian bab-ilu "Gate of God" (from bab "gate" + ilu "god"). The name is a translation of Sumerian Ka-dingir.
The meaning "a confused medley of sounds" (1520s) is from the biblical story of the Tower of Babel and the confusion of tongues (Genesis xi). The element bab figures in other place-names across the Middle East, such as Bab-el-Mandeb, the strait at the mouth of the Red Sea.
mid-14c., Babilon, representing the Greek rendition of Akkadian Bab-ilani "the gate of the gods," from bab "gate" + ilani, plural of ilu "god" (compare Babel). The Old Persian form, Babiru-, shows characteristic transformation of -l- to -r- in words assimilated from Semitic.
The English word also was formerly applied by Protestants to the Church in Rome, in reference to the woman "arrayed in purple and scarlet" in Revelation xvii.5 ("And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth").
1921, name for a brand of West Indian rum produced by Compania Ron Bacardi, originally of Cuba.
"drunken revelry," 1630s, from the name of the Roman festival held in honor of Bacchus, from neuter plural of Latin bacchanalis "having to do with Bacchus" (q.v.); the festivals became so notorious for excess that they were forbidden by the Senate 186 B.C.E. A participant is a Bacchant (1690s), fem. Bacchante, from French. The plural of both is Bacchantes.
Greek god of wine and revelry, a later name of Dionysus, late 15c., from Latin Bacchus, from Greek Bakkhos, which is perhaps related to Latin bacca "berry, fruit of a tree or shrub" (see bay (n.4)), or from an Asian language. He was perhaps originally a Thracian fertility god.
capital of Iraq; the name is pre-Islamic and dates to the 8c., but its origin is disputed. It often is conjectured to be of Indo-European origin, from Middle Persian elements, and mean "gift of god," from bagh "god" (cognate with Russian bog "god," Sanskrit Bhaga; compare Bhagavad-Gita) + dād "given" (from PIE root *do- "to give"). But some have suggested origins for the name in older languages of the region. Marco Polo (13c.) wrote it Baudac.
1889, Beha'i, "mystical, tolerant Iranian religion," founded by a Mirza Ali Mohammed ibn Radhik, a Shiraz merchant executed for heresy in 1850, and named for his leading disciple, Baha Allah (Persian "splendor of God;" ultimately from Arabic). It also is sometimes called Babism, after the name taken by the founder, Bab-ed-Din, "gate of the faith."
islands discovered by Columbus in 1492, settled by English in 1648, long after the native population had been wiped out by disease or carried off into slavery; the name is said to be from Spanish baja mar "low sea," in reference to the shallow water here, but more likely represents a local name, Guanahani, the origin of which had been lost and the meaning forgotten.