plural children ˈchil-drən How to pronounce child (audio)
-dərn
often attributive
1
a
: a young person especially between infancy and puberty
a play for both children and adults
b
: a person not yet of the age of majority (see majority sense 2a)
Under the law she is still a child.
c
: a childlike or childish person
He is a child in most business matters.
2
a
: a son or daughter of human parents
Do you have any children?
b
: descendant
the children of Israel
3
a
: an unborn or recently born person
… Meghan Markle, married Prince Harry, now pregnant with child.Laura Simonetti
b
dialect : a female infant
4
: 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"
5
: product, result
barbed wire … is truly a child of the plainsW. P. Webb
6
usually childe archaic : a youth of noble birth
childless adjective
childlessness noun
Phrases
with child

Did you know?

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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web De La Rosa, an internet personality and former radio host, shares three children with Cannon, who has 12 offspring total. Cerys Davies, Los Angeles Times, 3 Apr. 2024 The lawsuit also alleges that the child was unsupervised at the time of the incident, according to the complaint. Marcus D. Smith, Sacramento Bee, 3 Apr. 2024 Doctors and health officials say children have already begun to die of malnutrition. Hazem Balousha, Washington Post, 3 Apr. 2024 Cannon and De La Rosa’s other children, Zion Mixolydian (Zillion’s twin), and Beautiful Zeppelin, were also present. Elizabeth Ayoola, Essence, 3 Apr. 2024 Douglas is the first child of actors Kirk Douglas and Diana Hill. Jack Smart, Peoplemag, 3 Apr. 2024 A couple of times, the child was formally suspended, Gomes said. Sarah Butrymowicz, USA TODAY, 3 Apr. 2024 As often happens in a new house, children appeared, Julie and Amy, the first adopted and the second a lovely surprise. Charles Hammer, Kansas City Star, 3 Apr. 2024 Households may also use the funding for other costs related to flood damage that aren’t covered by insurance, such as damage to personal property, transportation, funeral costs, medical care and child care. Maura Fox, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 Apr. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'child.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3a

Time Traveler
The first known use of child was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near child

Cite this Entry

“Child.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/child. Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

child

noun
plural children ˈchil-drən How to pronounce child (audio)
-dərn
1
: an unborn or recently born person
2
a
: a young person especially between infancy and youth
b
: a childlike or childish person
3
: a son or daughter of human parents
childless adjective

Medical Definition

child

noun
plural children ˈchil-drən, -dərn How to pronounce child (audio)
1
: an unborn or recently born person
2
: a young person especially between infancy and youth

Legal Definition

child

noun
plural children
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.

Biographical Definition

Child 1 of 2

biographical name (1)

Francis James 1825–1896 American ballad editor

Child

2 of 2

biographical name (2)

Julia (Carolyn) 1912–2004 née McWilliams American chef

More from Merriam-Webster on child

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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