What is the etymology of the word "bae" as a term of endearment?

  • 1
    I don't know, but I imagine it's a foreshortening of / diminutive based on baby?
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 1, 2015 at 20:37
  • @DanBron that would be my best guess, but that's all it would be.
    – Keith
    Jun 1, 2015 at 20:38
  • 2
    If written BAe, it is a large company called British Aerospace.
    – WS2
    Jun 1, 2015 at 21:19
  • @WS2 BAe is now BAE Systems.
    – Hugo
    Jun 2, 2015 at 11:03
  • @Hugo Since 1999 apparently. And I had only just got over mourning the loss of names like de Havilland, Vickers and Marconi. .
    – WS2
    Jun 2, 2015 at 11:23

2 Answers 2


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.

  • Is that the first time it was used then?
    – Keith
    Jun 1, 2015 at 20:42
  • I think it was one of its earliest usage.
    – user66974
    Jun 1, 2015 at 20:45
  • 1
    For something like bae, I think it's very hard to make statements with any certainty about first use or even about any of its earliest uses. I expect it was used in speech a long time before the 2003 UD entry.
    – Hugo
    Jun 2, 2015 at 11:08
  • I'm fairly sure it comes from K-Pop.
    – SAH
    May 29, 2016 at 20:47

I had always thought that it stood for "Before Anyone Else".

  • 3
    I've heard that too. Any evidence?
    – Keith
    Jun 1, 2015 at 20:38
  • It's just what I've been told and gotten used to around here. Jun 1, 2015 at 20:40

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