Clipping of neighborhood; compare hood. In attributive use, attested since 1922;[1] in noun sense “neighborhood”, since 1942;[2] in noun sense “neighborhood theater”, since 1933, originally in New York City.[2]



nabe ‎(plural nabes)

  1. Neighborhood.
    • 1922, Denver Post 2 Dec. 10/8 (head & text):[1]
      Cagers Will Attend ‘Nabe’ Gym Smoker.
      Practically every basketball player in the city has promised to attend the benefit smoker at the Neighborhood House gym, Tenth and Galapago, Monday night.
    • 1938, Tommy Dorsey and George D. Lottman, “Love in Swingtime“ (syndicated serial) The Times-Picayune (New Orleans) 9 Aug. 12/2 and 12/3:
      “Biggest flopperoo of year, so far,” wrote Green “was the highly touted preeming of Biff Brown’s band at the Ritz, nabe dancery near Bridgeport.” …
      Glossary of Swing Words in this Chapter. … Nabe dancery: Neighborhood ballroom.
  2. (frequently plural) Neighborhood theater, neighborhood cinema.
    • 1970, New Yorker:[2]
      They picked an aging star, slapped together a moldy script, and sent the result out to the nabes.

Usage notesEdit

In “neighborhood theater” sense, frequently “the nabes”, particularly used by Variety (NYC theater magazine), but also more widely.

In “neighborhood” sense, particularly New York City, but used throughout the US. Popular industry term, notably in Billboard (NYC music industry) in 1940s–1960s,[3] but in 1970s and 1980s primarily confined to Brooklyn, NYC.[3] Increased in popularity and became widespread from the 1990s, presumably as a less marked alternative to hood ‎(neighborhood, particularly poor black).[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 nabe (attrib.) 'neighborhood': 1922, 1938”, Ben Zimmer, American Dialect Society, 21 Aug 2012
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Oxford English Dictionary, second edition, 1989
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Nabe or Hood? A Brief History of Shortening ‘Neighborhood’”, Henry Grabar, The Atlantic: CityLab, Aug 27, 2012
  • Nabe (a neighborhood)”, Barry Popik, The Big Apple, August 21, 2012
  • nabe” in Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Online




  1. rōmaji reading of なべ
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