Babe in Arms, a

babe in arms literally refers to a very young child or a baby who is not yet able to walk or crawl, and so must be carried in someone’s arms. As an idiomatic expression, though, it doesn’t need to refer to a child or baby at all.

Meaning of Idiom ‘Babe in Arms’

Used as an expression, a babe in arms is someone who is either very young or very inexperienced holding an important position. Even an older adult, if they lack the experience needed to handle an important responsibility, can be referred to as a babe in arms, but the expression is usually reserved for younger and inexperienced adults.

It is similar to the expression a babe in the woods.

Synonyms for babe in arms are greenhorn and novice.

Young soldier in Vietnam - A babe in arms
This young soldier in Vietnam is a babe in arms, thrust into a terrible conflict

Babe in arms is used basically as if it is a word used to describe someone who is not ready for the situation in which they find themselves.


The term ‘babe in arms’ has been used to refer to a very young child since at least the sixteenth century. When it first came to be used figuratively is unclear. The original term is archaic and never used today but the idiom, although rare, still survives.

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