How did Babbitt (the metal) get its name and Where does the word Babbitt come from?

Babbitt in this case has no relation whatsoever to the chief character in Sinclair Lewis’s satire of that title.

This is the name of a soft, whitish alloy used to reduce friction in machine bearings and was that of its American inventor, Isaac Babbitt (1799-1862), who first produced it at Taunton, Massachusetts, in 1834.

The invention contributed so greatly to the development of the “Machine Age” that Babbitt later received a Congressional award of $20,000.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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