What 'Bae' Means & How To Use It As A Term Of Endearment

Photo: Felipe Silva / Pexels via Canva
man and woman being romantic

We live in a world of acronyms: of YOLO and STFU, of IDC and IMU, and of BRB and RU. (Which stand for — in order — you only live once, shut the F up, I don’t care, I miss you, be right back, and are you.)

There are lots of different words to call your significant other including babe, baby... and bae. You might know what babe and baby mean, but do you know why people use the word bae?

What does bae mean?

In short, BAE, as an acronym, stands for “before anyone else.”

What does bae really mean, though? Well, BAE isn’t just an acronym; in fact, according to, the meaning of BAE — well, bae (all lowercase) — is “an affectionate term used to address or refer to one’s girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse, etc.”

For example, if you wanted to say, "I'm hanging out with my boyfriend" or "Hanging out with Jay," you would simply say, "Hanging out with bae," though it's important to note that the phrase can also be used to describe something which is “very cool or great.”

That’s right — aside from being a term of endearment, bae can be used as an adjective.

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The term is most commonly used by millennials, specifically teens and young adults, many of whom use the word as an alternative to babe or boo.

Both boys and girls, men and women, use the word bae, usually if they are in a relationship or infatuated with each other. But bae can also be used to refer to a best friend as a way to express how close the bond is.

Where did bae come from?

The origin of bae dates back to between 2000-2005 where the word babe or baby was shortened to bae. The word babe comes from the early Middle English word "baban," which comes from the nursery word in origin.

However, Know Your Meme places the term's origins in 2003, as that is when the phrase first appeared on the site Urban Dictionary.

In July 2014, popular singer-songwriter Pharrell Williams released a song called "Come Get It Bae." In November 2014, a TIME article stated the term had been around since 2013.

A Visual Thesaurus article entitled “Bae Watch: The Ascent of a New Pet Name” put the phrase's origins as early as 2005, when it began showing up in music and, specifically, rap songs.

The term became widespread throughout the African-American community around 2013 and 2014, when it was used on social media and in hip-hop and R&B lyrics.

But in other countries, the term bae actually has other not-so-nice meanings.

While millennials use "bae" to describe someone they adore or love, the word means something completely different outside of North America.

Bae means "poop" in Danish, or is an onomatopoeic expression of disgust. Weird, right?

In Icelandic, "bae" means "bye" and is considered disrespectful when used towards older people. In this sense, it could equate to not using the Spanish "usted" when addressing an elder. Sounds confusing.

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Of course, the origins of the phrase do not matter as much as how it is used, and today the most common use of bae is probably “bae caught me slippin’” — a phrase which began in late 2012/early 2013. That, along with "I love you bae" are quite common.

Thankfully, bae isn't a bad word and has no negative connotations associated with it; however, some people just really don't care for it and think it's an overused and annoying word.

At the time, the phrase was used to describe pictures of individuals who pretended to be asleep but obviously were not. (Don’t ask me, ask the meme Gods.)

Examples Of How To Use Bae In A Sentence

Today, “bae” is almost always used in the place of someone's name, though it can be used in a wide array of situations. Here are a few examples:

1. A nickname to call your significant other

"I love you, bae."

2. To reference your significant other

"I can’t go out. Bae and I are going on a date."

3. To reference something that looks appealing

"That outfit is bae."

4. To reference someone you like

"I miss my bae."

That said, whether you like it or not — or understand it or not — doesn't matter. Bae is here to stay.

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Nicole Lane is a wife, mother, writer, and regular contributor for YourTango. She is a staunch defender of women's rights, she believes firmly in equality and parity, and she is an advocate for women's health, mental health, and sexuality.