child

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

Child

biographical name (1)
\ ˈchī(-ə)ld \

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

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Other Words from child

Noun

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

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Philippine strongman Rodrigo Duterte is widening his crackdown on drugs and crime by lowering the country’s legal age of responsibility, a move opponents say risks sweeping children up as criminals in violence that has killed thousands. Jake Maxwell Watts, WSJ, "Duterte’s Brutal Crime War Turns Toward Children," 29 Jan. 2019 Kelly, who was acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008, has denied allegations of abuse. Cindy Martin, The Seattle Times, "Henson and Badu say comments on R. Kelly misrepresented," 29 Jan. 2019 Friday kicked off with LaBeouf’s Honey Boy premiere and party—which saw the child star turned screenwriter, as well as cast member FKA twigs, drop by the DirecTV Lodge presented by AT&T. David Graver, Vogue, "Weekend One at Sundance: All the Celebrities Who Celebrated the Festival’s Daring Roster," 29 Jan. 2019 But don't expect to see too many scenes showing the stars' only child. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "'Home Town' Stars Erin and Ben Napier Reveal Why They Rarely Show Their Baby on TV," 28 Jan. 2019 Other documents show that some children spent $6,500 on in-game purchases. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Documents Show Facebook Knowingly Took Money from Unwitting Children," 25 Jan. 2019 In this edition, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Christine Darden come to life on the page through bright illustrations and creative facial expressions that young children certainly can empathize with. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Without question, these are 2018’s best space books for kids," 29 Dec. 2018 Further, researchers argue that Disney princesses, who can be so ubiquitous in young children’s lives, especially little girls,’ perpetuate already-extreme and unrealistic ideals of beauty and body image. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "You’re Not Crazy—Disney Princesses Have Insanely Small Waists (and Looking at Them Is Not Great for Kids)," 17 Jan. 2019 Some gossip sites speculated wildly about the reasons for her pregnancy and her child's paternity. Hanna Lustig, Teen Vogue, "Jamie Lynn Spears Claims the Real Reason Zoey 101 Ended Wasn't Pregnancy," 10 Jan. 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.

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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

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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 \
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 \
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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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.

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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

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about child

Comments on child

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