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Borrowed from Yiddishבאָבע(bobe, grandmother), and then either from a Slavic language[1] or from eastern Middle High German bābe (old woman), both from Proto-Slavic *baba (old woman) and ultimately imitative of a child’s babbling.



bubbe (plural bubbes) (chiefly in Jewish contexts)

  1. A grandmother.
    • 1892, I[srael] Zangwill, “The Sweater”, in Children of the Ghetto [], volume I, London: William Heinemann, →OCLC, book I (The Children of the Ghetto), page 34:
      The Bube explained the situation in voluble Yiddish, and made Esther wince again under the impassioned invective on her clumsiness. [] If the family died of starvation, their blood would be upon her grand-daughter's head.
    • 1987, Linda Barnes, chapter 1, in A Trouble of Fools (A Fawcett Crest Book), New York, N.Y.: Ballantine Books, →ISBN, page 1:
      I never met my bubbe, my grandma, the source of all my mother's Yiddish proverbs, []
    • 1992, Steven C. Dubin, “Acknowledgements”, in Arresting Images: Impolitic Art and Uncivil Actions, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, New York, N.Y.: Routledge, published 1994, →ISBN, page x:
      I dedicate this book to my late grandparents, Morris and Bala Baellow. My bubbe’s inability to write in English turned out to be a blessing: she pressed me into service as her scribe at an early age.
    • 1998, Elizabeth Sussman Nassau, “Raisins and Almonds”, in Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Dov Peretz Elkins, editors, Chicken Soup for the Jewish Soul: Stories to Open the Heart and Rekindle the Spirit, Deerfield Beach, Fla.: Health Communications, published 2001, →ISBN, part 5 (Family), page 238:
      Once, when I poked my stick in a bed of brown leaves, I found a shimmery snakeskin. When I showed my bubbe, she said I had found a memory of the snake, and that memories were precious.
  2. An elderly woman.
    • 1979 December, Stephen Longstreet, chapter 15, in The Dream Seekers, Los Angeles, Calif.: Pinnacle Books, published January 1981, →ISBN, page 174:
      "I wanna more chocolate, bubbe," said Karl. [] "You heard the bubbe," said Josie. "There isn't any. You act up and cry and I'll give you the back of my hand."

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  1. ^ bubbe, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2021; “bubbe, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

Further reading[edit]



  • IPA(key): /ˈbubːe/
  • Hyphenation: bub‧be


bubbe f 

  1. wind



  • Kazuhiro Kawachi (2007) A grammar of Sidaama (Sidamo), a Cushitic language of Ethiopia, page 81
  • Gizaw Shimelis, editor (2007), “bubbe”, in Sidaama-Amharic-English dictionary, Addis Ababa: Sidama Information and Culture department