Bab·​bitt ˈba-bət How to pronounce Babbitt (audio)
: a person and especially a business or professional man who conforms unthinkingly to prevailing middle-class standards
Babbittry noun

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He was a prosperous real-estate broker, a pillar of his Midwestern community, and a believer in success for its own sake. George F. Babbitt was his name and complacent American middle-class values were his game. Created by Sinclair Lewis in the satirical 1922 novel Babbitt, he epitomized the unimaginative and self-important businessmen that Lewis found typical of the provincial cities and towns of America—and the word Babbitt quickly became a byname for one who adheres to a conformist, materialistic, unimaginative way of life. Despite his evident prosperity and status, Lewis’s protagonist remains vaguely dissatisfied with life and makes tentative attempts at rebellion; in the end, however, he finds his need for social acceptance greater than his desire for escape.

Word History


George F. Babbitt, character in the novel Babbitt (1922) by Sinclair Lewis

First Known Use

1921, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Babbitt was in 1921


Dictionary Entries Near Babbitt

Cite this Entry

“Babbitt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 2023.

Biographical Definition


biographical name

Bab·​bitt ˈba-bət How to pronounce Babbitt (audio)
Irving 1865–1933 American scholar
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