What Does Bae Really Mean?

Girl looking over her boyfriend shoulder

What does bae even mean? | iStock.com/Sjale

If you Google the word “bae,” two things will likely rise to the top of your search engine results. One is the Urban Dictionary interpretation of bae, of course. And, the second is BAE Systems International, a British company formed in 1999 that provides some of the world’s most advanced, technology-led defense, aerospace, and security solutions.

For the sake of this article, though, it’s all about vernacular bae — not the security company.

And, at a time when everything from your savory tacos to your significant other is bae, it merits a look at exactly what these three short letters really mean and how they’re used across a wide swath of the population — albeit most heavily among the younger generations.

After all, everyone reading this article likely falls into one of two categories: Either you use bae on the daily and have been called upon to explain what it means — or you’re the one asking what it means. Find out here.

Bae is a boyfriend or girlfriend

The word “bae” legitimized its status in the English language when it was a runner-up for Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2014. So, it’s only appropriate to consult this respected dictionary’s definition first. It is defined as an informal expression referring to “a person’s boyfriend or girlfriend (often as a form of address).” For example: “I’m going to see my bae.” It is often used as a nickname or a direct address, too, “Bae just made me tacos,” or “What’s wrong, bae?”

Bae is babe

Sort through the multiple bae entries in the master source for street talk, Urban Dictionary, and the interpretation of the word becomes far less cut and dry. It similarly defines the word to be “used as a term of endearment, often referring to your boyfriend or girlfriend. Or perhaps a prospect who might one day hold such a lofty position.” Bae is also defined as a shortened form of “babe” or “baby.”

B.A.E. is an acronym

couple kissing and touching in bed

Bae can mean anything you want it to. | iStock.com/Ondine32

It’s safe to say that bae is commonly accepted for use as a name reference to one’s significant other. More disputed, though, is the use of bae as an acronym. “Before anyone else” is the most common definition, functioning as another term of endearment. You might also hear “best at everything,” although this is far less common. However, unlike such hashtag-worthy terms as WCW (woman crush Wednesday), MCM (man crush Monday), and TBT (throwback Thursday), which are definitive acronyms, this use of bae could be a backronym.

Bae is food

It didn’t take long for bae to enter the food lexicon as a term of affection for particular foodie love affairs with French fries, tacos, sandwiches, or brunch — or practically anything. Pizza Hut even introduced a line of Pizza is Bae shirts and swag, with their marketing efforts reflecting the foodie bae buzz.

Bae as a backronym

You might also see it used as another backronym in food-speak. Bacon and eggs, anyone? Or, better yet, bacon, avocado, and eggs, which is a much better use of the letter “A” in our humble opinion.

Bae as a personality

Where is Waffle House when you need it. #wafflesandfeet #cookingforbae

A post shared by Cooking for Bae (@cookingforbae) on Mar 29, 2017 at 4:20am PDT

Bae isn’t without its own multiple personalities. The memes are endless, as is the Twitter talk. The social media accounts can be hilarious, too, with favorites like @CookingForBae on Instagram; it collects the worst food photos and re-grams them for 152,000-plus followers. The @FriendOfBae Instagram page is a treat, too. It has no shortage of followers with 430,000-plus, and it will provide laughs with every new post.

I fucking love @trashcanpaul

A post shared by Lee Ayers (@friendofbae) on Apr 5, 2017 at 11:05am PDT

Bae as another language

If you really want to split hairs and know all the possible meanings and uses for bae, it means “bye” in Icelandic and “poop” in Danish. But, if you’re like us, you’ll just stick to the English translation.

Bae has certainly taken on a life of its own with seemingly endless uses and interpretations of the word. It’s come a long way since rapper Pharrell Williams’s “Come Get It Bae” song.

Bae for brands

Generalized as a term of affection and a label for something that is good or cool, these trendy three letters have practically become an institution with nearly everyone getting in on the bae game — from tweens to memes and from lovers to brands.

We already highlighted Pizza Hut’s incorporation of the word, but other mega brands have also taken advantage of bae in attempts to look authentic and cool. The official social media accounts of Olive Garden, Jamba Juice, Whole Foods, Mountain Dew, Service King, AT&T, Wal-Mart, Burger King, Arby’s, and Denny’s are just a few. There was even a Twitter account, Brands Saying Bae, that covered the action for awhile.

Bae in politics

In 2016, we even saw a presidential candidate Marco Rubio (ahem, Ru-bae-o) capitalize on this word trend to appeal to the younger generations.

It’s safe to say bae is here to stay — at least until another bae takes its places.