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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Just two days after burying her oldest child, a Jefferson County mom will continue her daughter’s legacy by handing out school supplies to future college students. al.com, "‘Her strength was amazing’: After daughter’s death, Alabama mother continues her legacy through charity," 18 July 2019 Meghan Markle now faces the difficult job of raising her child in the public eye while maintaining a sense of privacy As an actress, Meghan Markle grew accustomed to the spotlight. Stephanie Petit, PEOPLE.com, "Meghan Markle Has 'Struggled with the Intensity of the Spotlight': It's on a 'Different Level'," 18 July 2019 Bill had a love for the ocean and his fifth child was his beloved boat, Poverty Island. courant.com, "William J. Kirsche Jr.," 18 July 2019 Earlier this week, the Channelview mom came-up with a novel idea while cooking, and trying to get her child to sleep. Danny Hermosillo, Houston Chronicle, "Houston-area mom uses prosthetic finger to coax baby to sleep," 18 July 2019 For most of the last three years, Steve Knowlton has been driven by the need to secure justice for his mother, who taught her children never to harbor hate. Melissa Chan, Time, "A Police Officer Killed Their Mother, and Her Sons Want to Know Why He Hasn't Faced Trial," 18 July 2019 Paired with Felipe’s fugue-like voice, the exchange in perspective becomes mimetic of the fraught reciprocations between then and now, mother and daughter, the memories of parents and those of their children. Sean Mccoy, Los Angeles Times, "Review: An authoritarian leader’s shadow looms over a weary country in ‘The Remainder’," 18 July 2019 The overwhelming share of individuals doing the life-supporting, honorable, and extremely challenging work of caring for our children, people with disabilities, and seniors are women. Teen Vogue, "Pramila Jayapal and Ayanna Pressley: Raising The Minimum Wage Is A Women's Issue," 18 July 2019 Victoria also shared that it's been a good way for the girls, who are currently working on authoring their own children’s series, to stay busy and occupied. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, "Sisters Read Bedtime Stories to Kids All over the World via Facebook," 17 July 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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

What made you want to look up child? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

an act or instance of editing or removing

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!