ju·​ve·​nile | \ˈjü-və-ˌnī(-ə)l, -nᵊl \

Definition of juvenile 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : physiologically immature or undeveloped : young juvenile birds

2a : of, relating to, characteristic of, or suitable for children or young people juvenile fiction

b : of or relating to young people who have committed or are accused of committing a criminal offense the juvenile justice system juvenile crime

3 : reflecting psychological or intellectual immaturity : childish juvenile behavior juvenile pranks told him he was being juvenile

4 : derived from sources within the earth and coming to the surface for the first time used especially of water and gas



Definition of juvenile (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : a young person : youth a gang of juveniles

b : a book for children or young people

2 : a young individual resembling an adult of its kind except in size and reproductive activity: such as

a : a fledged bird not yet in adult plumage

b : a 2-year-old racehorse

3 : an actor or actress who plays youthful parts

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for juvenile

Synonyms: Adjective

adolescent, immature, young, youngish, youthful

Synonyms: Noun

bambino, bud, chick, child, cub, kid, kiddie (also kiddy), kiddo, moppet, squirt, whelp, youngling, youngster, youth

Antonyms: Adjective

adult, grown-up, mature, matured

Antonyms: Noun

adult, grown-up

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of juvenile in a Sentence


She criticized his juvenile behavior at the party. a juvenile alligator just hatched from its egg


She works to keep juveniles away from drugs. a medical study that followed juveniles through adolescence and into adulthood
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

McDermott’s sentence was above the 38 years recommended by the District Attorney’s Office — the longest sentence requested in a juvenile lifer case since DA Larry Krasner took office. Samantha Melamed, Philly.com, "Convicted of killing his family as a teen, Philly man resentenced to 45 to life," 27 June 2018 More than 6,100 of the dismissed convictions came from Hampden County, including 100 juvenile cases, according to figures provided by the ACLU of Massachusetts. Shawn Musgrave, BostonGlobe.com, "Judge dismisses more than 7,000 Amherst drug lab cases," 5 Apr. 2018 Within several weeks of her arrest, she had been diagnosed with early-onset schizophrenia but wasn't able to get treatment at the West Bend juvenile jail where she was being held on $500,000 bail. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Slender Man stabbing defendant Morgan Geyser committed for 40 years and will remain at secure hospital," 1 Feb. 2018 Mead spent about four months in juvenile detention and adult jail last year before being released in October, Eklund said. Aimee Green, OregonLive.com, "Murder charges dismissed against 2 teens in killing outside Gresham school," 19 Apr. 2018 The 16-year-old had been charged with two robberies, appeared capable of considerable violence and faced the possibility of years locked in a juvenile jail. Claudia Rowe, The Seattle Times, "King County sticks with peace circles for juvenile crime, even after a murder charge," 13 Apr. 2018 The second settlement approved Tuesday, for $1 million, involved a female teenager who was held at Camp Scudder, a juvenile detention facility in Santa Clarita. Nina Agrawal, latimes.com, "L.A. County officials approve $3.5 million in payouts over law enforcement misconduct," 10 July 2018 Of those who did provide victim-impact statements, many were adamant that the juvenile killers should never be freed. Samantha Melamed, Philly.com, "After 26 years working with at-risk teens, can a Philly couple forgive the one who killed their son?," 13 July 2018 Late last year, the comedian was booed off stage at a juvenile diabetes event in Denver over an anti-Donald Trump routine that fell flat with the crowd, The New York Post reported. Fox News, "George Lopez uses water bottle to pretend to urinate on Trump's star in Hollywood," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Pinnock and the juvenile were asked to get out of the vehicle, and detectives searched it, the release states. Pioneer Press, chicagotribune.com, "Loaded gun, bags of marijuana recovered during traffic stop in Evanston: Police," 13 July 2018 Little blue herons are unique in that the juveniles are white while the adult birds are slate blue with a brown head and neck. Taylor Piephoff, charlotteobserver, "You’ll have no regrets in search for egrets – and herons, too," 11 July 2018 Police did not identify the juvenile because of his age. Neil Vigdor, courant.com, "Two Arrested In Dunkin' Donuts Park Burglary, Yard Goats' Memorabilia Recovered," 7 July 2018 Medics responded to the scene and transported the juveniles to Community Hospital South for evaluation. Indianapolis Star, "Teens plunge into Johnson County pond after police chase," 24 June 2018 Jeter was one of the first released under Malloy’s initiative to release juvenile offenders who’d been given lengthy prison sentences. Matthew Ormseth, courant.com, "Paroled After Two Decades In Prison, James Jeter Will Attend Trinity College This Fall," 8 July 2018 The injured juvenile was released from the hospital. Hunter Woodall And Max Londberg, kansascity, "Child, 4, killed in KCK apartment fire, fire marshal says. Three others injured," 7 July 2018 Wendt's news release did not indicate whether charges are being pursued against the juvenile. Chris Mayhew, Cincinnati.com, "Boy rescued from Norfolk Southern train in Crescent Springs," 6 July 2018 At the same time, the highest-ranking juvenile in the group begins to mature into a full male. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "Alternatives to Heterosexual Pairings, Brought to You By Non-Human Animals," 28 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'juvenile.' 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 juvenile


1625, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1733, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for juvenile


French or Latin; French juvénile, from Latin juvenilis, from juvenis young person — more at young


see juvenile entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about juvenile

Statistics for juvenile

Last Updated

25 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for juvenile

The first known use of juvenile was in 1625

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for juvenile



English Language Learners Definition of juvenile

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: unpleasantly childish

: relating to or meant for young people

: of or relating to young people who have committed crimes



English Language Learners Definition of juvenile (Entry 2 of 2)

: a young person : a person who is not yet old enough to be legally considered an adult

: a young bird or animal


ju·​ve·​nile | \ˈjü-və-ˌnīl, -və-nᵊl\

Kids Definition of juvenile

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : not fully grown or developed a juvenile bird

2 : of or designed for young people a juvenile magazine

3 : having or showing a lack of emotional maturity juvenile pranks



Kids Definition of juvenile (Entry 2 of 2)

: a young person : youth


ju·​ve·​nile | \ˈjü-və-ˌnīl, -vən-ᵊl \

Medical Definition of juvenile 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : physiologically immature or undeveloped juvenile fish

2 : of, relating to, characteristic of, or affecting children or young people juvenile arthritis

3 : reflecting psychological or intellectual immaturity juvenile behavior



Medical Definition of juvenile (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a young person especially : one below the legally established age (as of 18) of adulthood

2 : a young individual resembling an adult of its kind except in size and reproductive activity

Keep scrolling for more


ju·​ve·​nile | \ˈjü-və-ˌnīl, -nəl\

Legal Definition of juvenile 

: an individual who is under an age fixed by law (as 18 years) at which he or she would be charged as an adult for a criminal act — compare minor

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on juvenile

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


playful or foolish behavior

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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