Alternative Spellings

bubele, bubbeleh, bobale, bubala, bubale, bubbaleh, bubeleh


  • sweetie, darling [term of endearment]

Example Sentences

  • "“Elise,” I’d say, “bubbeleh, you’ve got to stop stressing about what other people think." (http://readingthebestofthebest.blogspot.com/2012_07_22_archive.html)

Languages of Origin



באָבעלע bobele (little bean; fritter; endearing form of grandmother) from Slavic word for old woman/grandmother or Germanic word for bean or Germanic word for fritter OR בובעלע bubele (little doll; fritter) from Hebrew word בובה buba

Who Uses This

Orthodox: Jews who identify as Orthodox and observe halacha (Jewish law)
Older: Jews who are middle-aged and older
Ashkenazim: Jews with Ashkenazi heritage


North America


The New Joys of Yiddish, by Leo Rosten and Lawrence Bush (New York, 2003[1968]).
Yiddish and English: A Century of Yiddish in America, by Sol Steinmetz (Tuscaloosa, 1986).
The JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words, by Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic, (Philadelphia, 2001)


This word has several meanings (and origins) in Yiddish, and it is unclear which came to influence the Jewish English word. One possible origin is the diminutive for grandmother, because there are parallel ways to call children using other kinship terms: "tatele" (little father) and "mamele" (little mother, which was even calqued by Russian Jews into Russian language as "mamochka" and sometimes used even for boys). Another possible origin is "bobele" (little bean), as it refers to small stature.

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