Babe in the woods

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Babe in the woods is an idiom with a very old source. We will examine the meaning of the idiomatic phrase babe in the woods, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

A babe in the woods is someone who is naive, inexperienced, or innocent. The expression a babe in the woods is often used to describe someone who cannot understand complexity or nuance, or someone who does not understand treachery. The idiom a babe in the woods is derived from a popular ballad that began circulating in the sixteenth century that was variously titled Babes in the Woods, Babes in the Wood, or Children in the Wood. In the story, two orphans are abandoned in the forest by their evil uncle, who wishes to steal their inheritance. The children die and are covered with a carpet of leaves by robins. In the end, the uncle is punished for his sins. The plural form of babe in the woods is babes in the woods.


The average age at any of these events is likely to be 70, so depending on your vintage, you’ll either be among your peers, or a babe in the woods. (The New Zealand Herald)

“I wanted her on the next plane — she was a total babe in the woods,” recounts photo editor Marilyn Grabowski, who worked at Playboy for 43 years. (The New York Post)

I was a babe in the woods in the health care industry—and I had to lean hard into Leadership Hack #22 from Leadership and Life Hacks: Insights from a Mom, Wife, Entrepreneur and Executive: Keep your mouth shut and eyes open. (Forbes Magazine)

Want to have more idioms in your arsenal? Check out some others we covered: