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See also: Babbitt

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EnglishEdit

PronunciationEdit

Etymology 1Edit

Named for American inventor Isaac Babbitt (1799–1862).

Alternative formsEdit

NounEdit

babbitt (plural babbitts)

  1. A soft white alloy of variable composition (as a nine parts of tin to one of copper, or of fifty parts of tin to five of antimony and one of copper) used in bearings to diminish friction.
    Synonyms: Babbitt metal, Babbitt's metal, babbitt metal, bearing metal
    • 1952, Law and order in Canadian democracy: crime and police work in Canada, Royal Canadian Mounted Police:
      Coins made from nickel babbitt are fairly hard and give a clear bright ring. This makes it easier to pass them due to the widespread belief that a sure test of a counterfeit coin is to drop it on a hard surface to see if it will "ring".
    • 1992, William Glaeser, Materials for Tribology, page 72:
      Perhaps the most familiar soft bearing alloys are the babbitts. These have been in use since the early 19th century when printer's type metal was utilized for machinery by casting it into holes drilled in iron housings.
TranslationsEdit

VerbEdit

babbitt (third-person singular simple present babbitts, present participle babbitting, simple past and past participle babbitted)

  1. (transitive) To line with this metal to reduce friction.
    • 1872, “Statement of Linforth, Kellogg & Co., of San Francisco”, in Appendix to Journals of Senate And Assembly of the Nineteenth Session of the Legislature of the State of California, volume 3, T. A. Springer:
      These bearings, with their caps, are babbitted with metal of the finest quality, a jig representing the shafting being used to locate and regulate the proportion of the bearing precisely.
    • 1912 June, Wood Craft: A Journal of Woodworking:
      The work of babbitting bearings offers considerable opportunity for the use of different forms of fixtures that are capable of making a material increase in the efficiency with which this operation can be carried on.
    • 1920 July, R. C. Leibe, “A Quick Way to Babbitt”, in Popular Science, page 98:
      It takes half the time required to babbitt the bearings in halves.

Further readingEdit

Etymology 2Edit

Named after the title character in Sinclair Lewis' 1922 novel, Babbitt. Also popularised by the George and Ira Gershwin song “The Babbitt and the Bromide”, featured first in the 1927 musical “Funny Face” and later in the film Ziegfeld Follies (1945).

Alternative formsEdit

NounEdit

babbitt (plural babbitts)

  1. A person who subscribes complacently to materialistic middle-class ideals.
    • 1927 Ira Gershwin, "The Babbit and the Bromide," from the stage musical "Funny Face" (1927). Lyrics collected in: Louis Kronenberger (2008) An Anthology of Light Verse, p.234
      A Babbitt met a Bromide on the avenue one day. They held a conversation in their own peculiar way.
    • 1930 The Literary digest, Volume 105, Funk and Wagnalls, p.21
      One speaks of a babbitt habit, a babbitt era. Nothing is more true. America recognized itself in Babbitt, it demurred, but it also admired.
    • 1951 The Georgia review, Volume 5, University of Georgia, p.150
      If there's one thing I can't stand, it's a Babbitt. Say, there's nothing more wonderful than defying middle-class conventions.
    • 2002 Tamkang review, Volume 33, Tamkang College of Arts and Sciences, p.158
      [] a "babbitt" is a person full of self-confident bluster who is nevertheless a narrowminded philistine and a hypocrite.
    • 2003 William Hyland, George Gershwin: a new biography, Greenwood Publishing Group, p.116
      Ira relished telling the story that Fred Astaire took him aside and said he knew what a babbitt was, but what was a bromide?
    • 2009 Phillip G. Payne, Dead last: the public memory of Warren G. Harding's scandalous legacy, Ohio University Press, p.12
      In this sense Harding was a Babbitt. Intellectuals and journalists rejected Harding as being as empty as the Sinclair Lewis character.
Derived termsEdit

ReferencesEdit

Further readingEdit