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

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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

bambino, bud, chick, cub, juvenile, kid, kiddie (also kiddy), kiddo, moppet, 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 children, meanwhile, were taken by U.S. Health and Human Services. Phil Mccausland /, NBC News, "Government says around 2,551 migrant children still need reunification with parents," 14 July 2018 The opera, which originally cost $3.2 million to produce, consists of eight principal singers, 51 chorus members, 20 supers, two children, 234 costumes and 64 orchestral musicians. Madeline Mitchell,, "Pink Floyd's 'The Wall' was turned into an opera and it's making its American debut in Cincinnati," 13 July 2018 Records in Fulton County, Ga., indicate that an attorney for McCoy began trying to evict Cordon and her two children from the property in July 2017, FOX 5 reported. Dom Calicchio, Fox News, "In 911 call, woman claims home invasion may have 'something to do' with NFL player LeSean McCoy," 13 July 2018 The lifelong Naperville resident grew up on the family farm once located where Meadow Glens Elementary School stands today, one of 10 children, and often helped with the family cooking. Judy Buchenot, Naperville Sun, "Suburban Cooks: Mints go from trash to treasured cookies," 13 July 2018 Teams visit local schools to tell the children about apprenticeships, and over 30% of trainees come from disadvantaged areas. The Economist, "A welcome upgrade to apprenticeships," 12 July 2018 But despite fewer children in the county’s custody, problems persist. Leah Asmelash, charlotteobserver, "How one woman wants to help foster care youth, and it involves cake," 12 July 2018 One child, three-year-old Walter Cullen, put a hand right on the Duchess' face. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kids Couldn't Keep Their Hands Off of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in Ireland," 11 July 2018 The popular Home Depot craft table will also be returning, and is expected to serve up to 500 children, who will assemble small wooden projects. Steve Smith, Courant Community, "Kidding Around The Center Set For July 17," 10 July 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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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).


to teach someone the beliefs of a group

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