Entries linking to crybaby
mid-13c., "yell (something) out, utter" (transitive); c. 1300, "beg, implore; speak earnestly and loudly; advertise by calling out," from Old French crier, from Vulgar Latin *critare, from Latin quiritare "to wail, shriek" (source of Italian gridare, Old Spanish cridar, Spanish and Portuguese gritar), which is of uncertain origin.
Perhaps it is a variant of quirritare "to squeal like a pig," from *quis, echoic of squealing. Ancient folk etymology explained it as "to call for the help of the Quirites," the Roman constabulary.
The meaning was extended 13c. to the sense "shed tears" that had formerly been in weep, which it largely replaced by 16c., via the notion of "utter a loud, vehement, inarticulate sound." To cry (one's) eyes out "weep inordinately" is by 1704.
Most languages, in common with English, use the general word for "cry out, shout, wail" to also mean "weep, shed tears to express pain or grief." Romance and Slavic, however, use words for this whose ultimate meaning is "beat (the breast)," compare French pleurer, Spanish llorar, both from Latin plorare "cry aloud," but probably originally plodere "beat, clap the hands." Also Italian piangere (cognate with French plaindre "lament, pity") from Latin plangere, originally "beat," but especially of the breast, as a sign of grief. Related: Cried; crying.
The meaning "childish adult person" is from c. 1600. The sense of "youngest of a group" is by 1897. As a term of endearment for one's lover it is attested perhaps as early as 1839, certainly by 1901 (OED writes, "the degree of slanginess in the nineteenth-century examples is not easily determinable"); its popularity perhaps was boosted by baby vamp "a popular girl" (see vamp (n.2)), student slang from c. 1922.
The meaning "minute reflection of oneself seen in another's eyes" is from 1590s (compare pupil (n.2)). As an adjective by 1750. Baby food is from 1833. Baby blues for "blue eyes" recorded by 1892, perhaps for the reduplication as well as the fact that more infants have blue eyes than keep the color (the phrase also was used for "postpartum depression" 1950s-60s).
To empty the baby out with the bath (water) is attested by 1909 (in G.B. Shaw; compare German das Kind mit dem Bade ausschütten, attested from 17c.). A baby's breath was noted for sweet smell, which also was supposed to attract cats, hence baby's breath as the name of a type of flower, attested from 1897.
French bébé (19c.) is said to be from English, but there were similar words in the same sense in French dialects.
updated on May 26, 2018