I have to say I was gobsmacked when a reader suggested baby bump as a NOOB. I always thought of this euphemism for a pregnant celebrity’s stomach as a relatively recent invention of American tabloids. How wrong I was.
The term seems to have originated in late 1980s Britain as merely bump, sans the “baby.” The OED’s first citation (with telling quotation marks) is from The Times (of London) in January ’86: “The old idea was to hide ‘the bump’ under voluminous maternity dresses.”
Interestingly, as my correspondent pointed out, bump–sometimes, facetiously, the bump–came to refer not only to the protuberance but to the future child beneath it.
The OED quotes a 1999 novel by Charlotte Grimshaw, Provocation: “Harry … wiped his hands on his kiddie jeans and leaned against her and the bump, his sibling-to-be.”
The addition of the alliterative baby now seems to be inevitable. But it came only in December 2003, my investigations suggest, in the pages of the Australian publication MX: “While Danielle Spencer’s baby bump has really popped out, hubby Rusty Crowe is hitting the streets and parks of Sydney to lose any tummy bulges for his next flick.”
First British sighting: Liverpool Daily Post and Echo caption from September 22, 2004, “Sarah with and without her baby bump.”
And the first U.S. one goes to the San Antonio Express-News, January 27, 2005:
“For the last couple of years, it seemed all of Hollywood’s reigning clotheshorses and glamourpusses were trading in their Birkin bags for diaper bags, their Pilates bellies for baby bumps.”
The most recent use? Well, USA Today posted this sentence two hours ago as I write: “Beyonce debuted her baby bump at the MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 28.”
Enough already! I am baby bummed.