Open Dictionary word of the week: baby box

Posted by on June 21, 2012

baby box (noun)

a box where where people can leave unwanted babies, who are then cared for by the authorities

The United Nations is increasingly concerned at the spread in Europe of “baby boxes” where infants can be secretly abandoned by parents, warning that the practice “contravenes the right of the child to be known and cared for by his or her parents”.

Submitted from United Kingdom

There are some words you wish didn’t have a reason for existing. Words that you wish you’d discover were, after all, just a random gathering of letters at a bar: inebriated a-zs unable to spell what they ought to spell so that the word they form is accidental and without definition. Or that the definition for the word was something like: ‘always said by mistake when you actually mean something else, something else nice’ . So perhaps that’s what’s happened here.

Perhaps what was meant in each case was dog box – as in: you’ll go in the dog box if you’re not careful. Or boombox: get rid of that boombox it’s so the 90s! But that’s rubbish. It exists, and we must acknowledge it by naming it – everybody knows that’s how language works. Baby box, well, I know it’s macabre to say, but at least it’s somewhere warm and safe to put these ‘unwanted babies’.

Let’s just hope that it’s one of those new words that falls quickly out of use and never makes it into the pages of a printed dictionary because it’s no longer needed. I mean, what will the aliens think of us when they land?

For more on baby boxes there’s an interesting (that’s not the right word) article here, and with the great irony that only a Google search can provide, the next search result after that article entitled:

Spread of ‘baby boxes’ in Europe alarms United Nations | World …

is:

Baby box: The perfect gifts for newborns, mothers and babies

That from babyboxlondon.com who may soon be changing their name.

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