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“Bae” 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.”
On August 11th, 2006, Urban Dictionary user bubbless defined “bae” as “a lover or significant other.” On December 12th, 2008, Urban Dictionary user DreaBaeXXX defined the term as a Western Florida synonym for the words “baby, boo, sweetie.” On September 2nd, 2011, an entry for “Bae” was submitted to the online dictionary InternetSlang. On August 14th, 2012, the @TeensAdvices Twitter feed listed “bae” along with several other similar terms of endearment (shown below). In three years, the tweet accumulated over 730 reweets and 140 favorites.
On January 18th, 2014, Redditor drgigglez submitted a screenshot of a tweet in which a woman is shown “twerking on baes grave” to the /r/cringepics subreddit, where it gathered upwards of 3,200 votes (90% upvoted) prior to being archived.
On March 29th, YouTuber superkian13 uploaded a video titled “Do You Got a Bae?”, featuring several comedy sketches in which he mocks various slang terms. In four months, the video garnered more than 1.1 million views and 3,800 comments (shown below, left).
“Before Anyone Else”
According to the Visual Thesaurus, the earliest known use of BAE as an acronym for “before anyone else” was posted in a tweet from 2011:
“My girl hates being called bae but i still call her that bc it stands for Before Anyone Else”
On May 1st, 2014, YouTuber Shane Dawson uploaded a video titled “The Bae Challenge,” in which he and fellow YouTuber Joey Graceffa argue about whether BAE originated as an acronym for “before anyone else” (shown below). In the first three months, the video gained over 900,000 views and 3,400 comments.
On July 4th, Twitter user Alex Thomson asked followers for a definition of “Bae,” to which user @NuclearTeeth replied that it is an abbreviated version “baby/babe” and a backronym for “before anyone else.”
Bae Caught Me Slippin
On October 9th, 2012, Twitter user @NostrandAv shared a photo of a woman taking a picture herself pretending to be asleep, with the caption “Females Be Like ‘Bae Caught Me Slippin’”. The tweet inspired a series of intentionally failed “caught me sleeping” selfie photographs.
“Come Get it Bae”
On July 23rd, 2014, artist Pharrell Williams released the music video for the track “Come Get it Bae” (shown below).
The same day, Time Magazine published an article titled “This is What ‘Bae’ Means,” which outlined the slang term’s history and defined it as a synonym for “boo” or “babe.” Shortly after, Twitter user PiaGlenn introduced the hashtag #TimeTitles to poke fun at Time’s coverage of trends launched by the African American community, with the first example referencing the fictional young black character Daquan.