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

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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

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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

Sarah Dixon speculates that the baby's outfits will look very different than that of Kate Middleton's children, which is a little more traditional. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Important Question—Will Meghan and Harry's Child Be the Most Stylish Royal Ever?," 3 May 2019 Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip both have their birthdays celebrated at the Abbey, as do their four children (and as the wife of the future king, Camilla also receives the honor). Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Why Westminster Abbey's Bells Rang for Princess Charlotte's Birthday, But Not Prince Harry's," 2 May 2019 Her eldest children, Kingston, 12, and Zuma, 10, took after their mom's signature trendy style. Blair Donovan, Country Living, "Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani Hit the Red Carpet With Her Sons for the First Time Ever," 29 Apr. 2019 Food deserts have a particularly negative affect on children as well, who need to have a healthy diet in the first few years of their life in order to develop properly. Jessica Booth, Redbook, "Everything You Need To Know About Food Deserts," 29 Apr. 2019 Between the last season of Game of Thrones and the anticipated birth of Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry's first child, folks have monarchy — both real and fictional — on the brain this season. Marci Robin, Allure, "CoverGirl’s New Royalty-Inspired Eye Shadow Palettes Are Giving Us Game of Thrones Vibes," 26 Apr. 2019 When my husband was a child, his father died suddenly from a blood clot, so that’s always been in the back of my head. Nicole Pajer, SELF, "What I Wish I’d Known Before Dealing With a Medical Emergency While Traveling Abroad," 15 Apr. 2019 An Ohio man who claimed last week to be a missing child was ordered Tuesday by a federal magistrate judge in Cincinnati to be detained without bond pending a trial. Jake Holland, WSJ, "Man Claiming He Was Missing Boy Timmothy Pitzen Detained by Judge Without Bond," 9 Apr. 2019 The engineers in mission control must be a different generation now, the children of those who sent me on this journey. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "The Tourist's Guide to Space," 12 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.

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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 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

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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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