child

noun, often attributive
\ ˈchī(-ə)ld How to pronounce child (audio) \
plural children\ ˈchil-​drən How to pronounce children (audio) , -​dərn \

Definition of child

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : an unborn or recently born person
b dialect : a female infant
2a : a young person especially between infancy and youth a play for both children and adults
b : a childlike or childish person He is a child in most business matters.
c : a person not yet of age Under the law she is still a child.
3 usually childe \ ˈchī(-​ə)ld How to pronounce childe (audio) \, archaic : a youth of noble birth
4a : a son or daughter of human parents Do you have any children?
b : descendant the children of Israel
5 : one strongly influenced by another or by a place or state of affairs a child of the streets a child of nature America has been called "the first child of the Enlightenment"
6 : product, result barbed wire … is truly a child of the plains— W. P. Webb
with child

Child

biographical name (1)
\ ˈchī(-ə)ld How to pronounce Child (audio) \

Definition of Child (Entry 2 of 3)

Francis James 1825–1896 American ballad editor

Child

biographical name (2)

Definition of Child (Entry 3 of 3)

Julia (Carolyn) 1912–2004 née McWilliams American chef

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from child

Noun

childless \ ˈchī(-​ə)l(d)-​ləs How to pronounce childless (audio) \ adjective
childlessness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for child

Synonyms: Noun

bairn [chiefly Scottish], bambino, bud, chap [Southern & Midland], chick, cub, juvenile, kid, kiddie (also kiddy), kiddo, moppet, sprat, sprout, squirt, whelp, youngling, youngster, youth

Antonyms: Noun

adult, grown-up

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Is the word kid slang?

Some people worry that kid, when used of a child rather than a juvenile goat, is either slang or too colloquial to merit acceptance in standard English.

The fact is that we have been using kid to refer to a child that is human, rather than goatish, for more than three hundred years now. The Oxford English Dictionary notes that although this word was considered “low slang” when it first began being used, it had entered “familiar speech” by the 19th century.

In contemporary English, kid is neither slang nor improper. It is, however, most definitely informal, so those writing professionally or in a formal register might prefer to use child.

Examples of child in a Sentence

Noun

the birth of a child She's pregnant with their first child. a play for both children and adults All of their children are grown now. an elderly couple and their adult children Men are such children sometimes.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But just as there are organizations willing to discriminate against LGBTQ parents and children, there are also organizations and adoption agencies built just for the community. Alexis Jones, Marie Claire, "Taylor Swift Donated More Than $100k to Fight These Disgusting Anti-LGBTQ Bills," 9 Apr. 2019 After giving birth to her second child in 2016, Shiya Fursteneau, a 39-year-old yoga instructor and stay-at-home mom, couldn’t fathom going to an exercise class. Leah Groth, Glamour, "Peloton’s Online Community Is Changing the Fitness Game for Moms," 9 Apr. 2019 There are 46 ocean villas on the property, and each can house two adults and two children, or three adults, comfortably. Elizabeth Gulino, House Beautiful, "There’s a Slide Attached to This Resort in The Maldives, And You Need To Go," 8 Apr. 2019 Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's eldest child, North West, got up on stage to perform alongside her father at his weekly Sunday service, according to Twitter videos posted by Kim. Nicole Saunders, Harper's BAZAAR, "North West Snatched the Mic and Performed with Kanye West at His Sunday Service," 8 Apr. 2019 One day Stefanie, who’d rediscovered the exhilaration of skiing with her older children (pictured above, along with her youngest son), approached the principal of the town’s only K–8 school. Melody Warnick, Woman's Day, "These Small-Town Heroes Are Helping Their Communities Thrive," 2 Apr. 2019 This frees her mentally to immerse herself in play and outings with Luke and their two children, Evelyn, 5, and Max, 3. Sue Shellenbarger, WSJ, "Turn Your Weekends Into Mini-Vacations," 26 Mar. 2019 One month later, Kylie was pregnant with their first child, Stormi Webster, who was born on February 1, 2018. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Everything You Need to Know About All of Kylie Jenner's Ex-Boyfriends," 20 Mar. 2019 Some fans tracked down his family, including his young children, through Facebook and sent harassing messages. Alexander Huls, Popular Mechanics, "The Great Star Wars Heist," 7 Mar. 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of child

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for child

Noun

Middle English, from Old English cild; akin to Goth kilthei womb, and perhaps to Sanskrit jaṭhara belly

Keep scrolling for more

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for child

child

noun

English Language Learners Definition of child

: a young person
: a son or daughter
: an adult who acts like a child : a childlike or childish person

child

noun
\ ˈchīld How to pronounce child (audio) \
plural children\ ˈchil-​drən \

Kids Definition of child

1 : an unborn or recently born person
2 : a young person of either sex between infancy and youth
3 : a son or daughter of any age My children are grown now.

child

noun
\ ˈchī(ə)ld How to pronounce child (audio) \
plural children\ ˈchil-​drən, -​dərn How to pronounce children (audio) \

Medical Definition of child

1 : an unborn or recently born person
2 : a young person especially between infancy and youth
with child

Keep scrolling for more

child

noun
plural children

Legal Definition of child

1 : a son or daughter of any age and usually including one formally adopted — compare issue

Note: The word child as used in a statute or will is often held to include a stepchild, an illegitimate child, a person for whom one stands in loco parentis, or sometimes a more remote descendant, such as a grandchild. In interpreting the word child as used in a will, the court will try to effectuate the intent of the person who made the will as it can be determined from the language of the will.

2 : a person below an age specified by law : infant, minor assault on a child under 16 years of age — compare adult

Note: A person who is below the statutory age but is married will usually be considered an adult.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on child

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with child

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for child

Spanish Central: Translation of child

Nglish: Translation of child for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of child for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about child

Comments on child

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

WORD OF THE DAY

an enemy or opponent

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!