noun, often attributive
\ˈchī(-ə)ld \
plural children\ˈchil-​drən, -​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 \, 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


biographical name (1)
\ˈchī(-ə)ld \

Definition of Child (Entry 2 of 3)

Francis James 1825–1896 American ballad editor


biographical name (2)

Definition of Child (Entry 3 of 3)

Julia (Carolyn) 1912–2004 née McWilliams American chef

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Other Words from child


childless \ˈchī(-​ə)l(d)-​ləs \ 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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Their method of child care also seems to be different from the two examples above. Diana Gitig, Ars Technica, "Soy milk, almond milk, oat milk. Spider milk?," 30 Nov. 2018 Women and children were among those affected by the use of tear gas, migrants said. Robbie Whelan, WSJ, "U.S. Border Patrol Uses Tear Gas to Disperse Migrant Caravan," 26 Nov. 2018 But on the other, given the exorbitant cost of child care in this country, that’s the real fraud of this movie. Sarene Leeds, Glamour, "Mrs. Doubtfire Is About a Man Financially Scamming His Ex-Wife," 24 Nov. 2018 The boat can carry two adults or one adult and two children, or 418 pounds total. Madison Flager, House Beautiful, "This Inflatable Sailboat Fits In The Trunk Of Your Car," 30 Oct. 2018 And despite the age difference between their oldest and youngest child (Drake is 13), everyone has been able to get it on their recent family fun. Jessica Leigh Mattern, Country Living, "Chip and Joanna Gaines' Kids 'Fight Over' Baby Crew for the Sweetest Reason," 27 Oct. 2018 Back in June, Charles received a lot of backlash over resurfaced tweets that featured him fat-shaming women and children in 2012. Alison Caporimo, Seventeen, ""Riverdale"'s Camila Mendes and Charles Melton Just Made Their Relationship Instagram Official!," 8 Oct. 2018 At the same time, several children and two adults passed through a small gap in the fence several feet off the ground. Santiago Pérez, WSJ, "Protests in Tijuana as Caravan Migrants Arrive to Seek Asylum in U.S.," 18 Nov. 2018 The entry hall’s Saarinen table is from Design Within Reach, the bench has a seat in a David Hicks by Ashley Hicks fabric, and the antique child’s chair is a family heirloom. Sara Ruffin Costello, ELLE Decor, "A New Orleans Manse is Given New Life with a Fashionable Pizzazz," 26 Oct. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of child


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

History and Etymology for child


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

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More Definitions for child



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


\ˈchīld \
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.


\ˈchī(ə)ld \
plural children\ˈchil-​drən, -​dərn \

Medical Definition of child 

1 : an unborn or recently born person

2 : a young person especially between infancy and youth

with child

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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.

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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 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).


a typical or ideal example

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