What is the etymology of the word "bae" as a term of endearment?
According to the following sources the term originated in the first years of the new century as a modified version of babe or baby.
Bae ( from knowyourmeme.com):
- is a term of endearment for a significant other, similar to other pet names derived from the word “baby,” such as “B” and “boo.” Following the popularization of the term through various hip hop and R&B songs in the early 2010s, “bae” also became alternatively interpreted by some as a backronym for “before anyone else.”
- The exact origin of “bae” is unknown. On March 14th, 2003, Urban Dictionary user Trong submitted an entry for “bae,” defining it as a “bastardization of the term ‘babe’.”
From: Behind The Dictionary Lexicographers Talk About Language:
"Bae" Watch: The Ascent of a New Pet Name
has a pretty straightforward etymology: It started as a clipped form of baby or babe. Or did it? (More on that later.) The earliest evidence I've found for the existence of bae is a chart generated on the website Rap Genius, which indicates that bae has been turning up in rap songs since 2005, although their search interface makes it hard to confirm.
In late 2012 and on into 2013, bae spread into wider awareness thanks to several several internet memes. The first, known as "Bae caught me slippin'," requires some explanation. Imagine that someone, let's say Mikayla, has a boyfriend she's on sleeping terms with. One day her "bae" finds her sleeping. Quietly picking up her camera phone, he takes a picture of the scene. Mikayla wakes up later, finds the picture in her camera phone, and posts it on Instagram, so that everyone can understand that she has a boyfriend who sometimes is present when she's sleeping, nudge nudge.