What is the origin of babushka?
Babushka “an elderly Russian woman” is a borrowing from Russian bábushka “grandmother,” equivalent to bába “old woman” and -ushka, a diminutive suffix. Bába is but one example of the innumerable kinship terms that originated from baby talk; the bilabial consonants b, m, and p are among the first sounds that infants acquire, and these three sounds are the bases of the words for “father” and “mother,” as well as for other elder relatives, in multiple language families. It is not a coincidence that the word for “mother” in Basque (ama), Hawaiian (makuahine), Hebrew (ímma), Latin (māter), Korean (eomi), Mandarin Chinese (mǔqīn), Navajo (amá), and Quechua (mama) all contain the letter m even though these languages are unrelated. Babushka was first recorded in English in the late 1930s.