change·​ling | \ ˈchānj-liŋ How to pronounce changeling (audio) \

Definition of changeling

1 archaic : turncoat
2 : a child secretly exchanged for another in infancy
3 archaic : imbecile

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Other Words from changeling

changeling adjective

Examples of changeling in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Goslings and ducklings are baby birds, but a groundling is an uncritical or unrefined person (too poor to pay for a seat in Renaissance theaters) and a changeling is a child exchanged by fairies, or any kind of replacement of inferior value. Melissa Mohr, The Christian Science Monitor, "When good words turn bad," 28 June 2018 The British actress Andrea Riseborough is one of those metamorphic changelings so different from film to film, role to role, that few people realize she’s even out there. Ty Burr,, "‘Nancy’ presents a mother and child reunion that is — or maybe isn’t," 13 June 2018 But some sympathetic twitchy polymath would come along and explain that abductions happen all the time; this is what changelings always were. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "The Truth Is Out There," 21 Dec. 2017 In rural 19th century Ireland, Nóra suspects that her toddler grandson, whose mother has died, is actually a changeling left by the fairies, or Good People, who cause illness and misfortune. USA TODAY, "Weekend picks for book lovers: Jennifer Egan's 'Manhattan Beach'," 14 Oct. 2017 Nóra comes to believe that the child left in her care is not her grandson, but a changeling left behind by the fairies, or Good People, who cause illness and misfortune. Patty Rhule, USA TODAY, "Bad things happen to 'Good People' in Hannah Kent's eerie novel," 19 Sep. 2017 The last album by the California songwriter and changeling was 2014’s Morning Phase, a mellow, Down East effort that won a Grammy for album of the year and (of course) ticked off Kanye West. Dan Deluca,, "U2, Taylor Swift, and the rest of the albums and concerts to look forward to this fall," 6 Sep. 2017 But as is so often the case, take a ho-hum little thing and put it in a garden and the ugly duckling does its changeling thing. Paul Cappiello, The Courier-Journal, "Ironweeds. How this old field weed turned into a garden gem," 18 Aug. 2017 Chastised changelings So much for wish fulfillment. Mike Fischer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Stratford Festival plays focus on women's untold stories," 31 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'changeling.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of changeling

1534, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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Time Traveler for changeling

The first known use of changeling was in 1534

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English Language Learners Definition of changeling

in stories : a baby that is secretly left to replace another baby

More from Merriam-Webster on changeling Encyclopedia article about changeling

Comments on changeling

What made you want to look up changeling? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to wander slowly or to speak indistinctly

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