baby, noun

Forms:
Also with initial capital.
Origin:
See quotation 1886.
historical, Diamond-mining
A machine used for sifting diamondiferous gravel on diamond diggings. Also attributive.
1870 E. Prov. Herald 2 Sept.Swinging sieves, called ‘babies’ are now in use on the fields.
1886 J. Noble Cape of G.H.: Off. Handbk 219The invention of the ‘baby’ derives its name neither from its association with the ‘cradle,’ nor from its swinging motion suggestive of infancy, but from its inventor, an American named Babe who was digging at the river about 1870.
1887 J.W. Matthews Incwadi Yami 175Third in order came the ‘baby’...Three screens, somewhat similar to those used by bricklayers in making mortar, were suspended by reins (leather thongs) almost horizontally to four posts, and were kept in agitation by hand, the reins of course giving full play for ‘pulsation’.
1891 R. Smith Great Gold Lands 70After the excavation has been made with pick and shovel, the boulders and large stones are thrown aside, and the gravel secured is taken to a sifting machine called a ‘baby’. This consists of an oblong sieve, swinging by four thongs or chains from four upright poles, and inclined slightly, so that the pebbles may roll over it.
1922 S.G. Millin Adam’s Rest 96There was the cost of working materials — sieves, buckets, shovels, picks, a windlass, a ‘baby’ (a cradle-like affair for separating sand from pebbles) — nothing very elaborate.
1931 G. Beet Grand Old Days 28The inventor of the South African type of cradle, or ‘baby’ was..J.L. Babe. Of him it used to be jocularly remarked that he was the only Babe who had ever rocked his own cradle.
1948 H.V. Morton In Search of S. Afr. 275Earth and gravel from the claim was first thrown into a wooden frame with swing rockers fitted with meshes of varying sizes. As a native rocked the frame, which is called the ‘baby’, a stream of water helped to break up the deposit as it was shaken through the grid.
1950 E. Rosenthal Here Are Diamonds 196The word ‘Baby’..Pettman defines as ‘a sifting machine used on the Vaal River diamond diggings in the process known as dry-sorting’.
1968 J.T. McNish Rd to El Dorado 123A Californian gold digger in the person of J.L. Babe found his way to the diamond fields of South Africa...His invention of the Baby sifting appliance was an improvement of the first three-tier sieves in use.
1970 Std Encycl. of Sn Afr. II. 628The ‘baby’, although primitive in design, nevertheless proved so satisfactory that it became popular at the river diggings, where it is still used.
1980 A.J. Blignaut Dead End Rd 69Rubble was bouncing with a clatter off the zinc ends of sieves swaying in wooden frames. They called them dummies and babies.
A machine used for sifting diamondiferous gravel on diamond diggings. Also attributive.

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