noun, often attributive
\ ˈchī(-ə)ld How to pronounce child (audio) \
plural children\ ˈchil-​drən How to pronounce child (audio) , -​dərn \

Definition of child

1a : 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.
2a : a son or daughter of human parents Do you have any children?
b : descendant the children of Israel
3a : 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 plains— W. P. Webb
6 usually childe \ ˈchī(-​ə)ld How to pronounce child (audio) \, archaic : a youth of noble birth
with child

Other Words from child

childless \ ˈchī(-​ə)l(d)-​ləs How to pronounce child (audio) \ adjective
childlessness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for child



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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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Fearing that her daughter was devoting too much time to drama, Atim’s mother once forbade her child from starring in a school play. Veronica Wells, Essence, 26 Sep. 2022 Alec and Hilaria Baldwin have announced the arrival of their seventh child. Kim Willis, USA TODAY, 26 Sep. 2022 Her oldest child, 11, has memory problems and struggles to focus. Eliott C. Mclaughlin, CNN, 25 Sep. 2022 Alec and Hilaria Baldwin have welcomed their seventh child. Christi Carras, Los Angeles Times, 25 Sep. 2022 Kelly said Thursday night that star receiver Kayshon Boutte had been excused from Saturday’s game to be with his girlfriend for the birth of their child. ... Mark Heim |, al, 24 Sep. 2022 Tyrika Terrell was scared that her ex-boyfriend and the father of her child would hurt her, according to investigators. Alexis Stevens, ajc, 23 Sep. 2022 Th seller describes this fidget toy as a great way to stimulate your child's color vision and hand movement. Mariah Thomas, Good Housekeeping, 23 Sep. 2022 Do not continue to apologize for or explain your reaction to her child’s death. Amy Dickinson, Chicago Tribune, 23 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of child

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

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

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Last Updated

29 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Child.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for child


\ 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.


\ ˈchī(ə)ld How to pronounce child (audio) \
plural children\ ˈchil-​drən, -​dərn How to pronounce child (audio) \

Medical Definition of child

1 : an unborn or recently born person
2 : a young person especially between infancy and youth
with child


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.

Child biographical name (1)

\ ˈchī(-ə)ld How to pronounce Child (audio) \

Definition of Child

 (Entry 1 of 2)

Francis James 1825–1896 American ballad editor


biographical name (2)

Definition of Child (Entry 2 of 2)

Julia (Carolyn) 1912–2004 née McWilliams American chef

More from Merriam-Webster on child

Nglish: Translation of child for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of child for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about child


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