Why is it called a bib?

Answered by Robert Flynn

The term “bib” is commonly used to refer to a garment or accessory that is worn to protect clothing from stains and spills, particularly during meals. But have you ever wondered why it is called a “bib”? Let’s explore the etymology and history of this word to shed some light on its origins.

The word “bib” has been in use in the English language since around 1580, but its roots can be traced back even further. It is believed to have originated from the Middle English verb “bibben,” which meant “to drink” and can be dated back to around 1380. This Middle English term itself derived from the Latin word “bibere,” which also means “to drink.”

So, how did a word related to drinking come to be associated with a garment used for protecting clothing? There are a couple of theories that could explain this connection. One possibility is that the term “bib” was used because the garment was commonly worn while drinking. This could be especially true for infants or young children who often wear bibs during feeding to catch any spills or drools.

Another theory suggests that the word “bib” may have been used because the garment was designed to “soak up” spills. Just as a sponge can absorb liquids, a bib was meant to absorb any food or drink that might otherwise soil one’s clothing. The idea of soaking up spills could have led to the adoption of the term “bib” for this particular item of clothing.

While the exact reason for the choice of the word “bib” may remain somewhat uncertain, it is clear that the term has been used for centuries to describe this protective garment. Over time, bibs have evolved to become not only functional but also fashionable accessories. They come in various styles, materials, and designs, catering to different age groups and purposes.

Personally, I remember wearing a bib as a child during meal times. It was often made of soft, absorbent fabric with a tie or Velcro closure at the back. The bib would catch any spills or food that missed my mouth, preventing them from staining my clothes. It was a practical and convenient accessory that provided a sense of protection and cleanliness.

The term “bib” likely originated from the Middle English verb “bibben,” meaning “to drink,” which can be traced back to the Latin word “bibere.” The association between this word and a garment used for protecting clothing may have come from the fact that bibs were worn during drinking or because they soaked up spills. Regardless of its exact origins, the word “bib” has become ingrained in our language and continues to be used to describe this useful accessory.