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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for juvenile

Synonyms: Adjective

adolescent, immature, young, youngish, youthful

Synonyms: Noun

bairn [chiefly Scottish], bambino, bud, chap [Southern & Midland], chick, child, cub, kid, kiddie (also kiddy), kiddo, moppet, sprat, sprout, squirt, whelp, youngling, youngster, youth

Antonyms: Adjective

adult, grown-up, mature, matured

Antonyms: Noun

adult, grown-up

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Unfortunately, juvenile idiopathic arthritis can progress to rheumatoid arthritis in some cases. Korin Miller, SELF, "Claire Foy on What It Was Like to Have 'Extremely Painful' Juvenile Arthritis," 9 Jan. 2019 The dozen or so old tweets uncovered and circulated by right-wing pundits were largely directionless — too ill-formed to be anything but juvenile shock humor. Aja Romano, Vox, "Why the Kevin Hart Oscars backlash is different from other recent public shamings," 5 Jan. 2019 With a medium blue wall color (Farrow & Ball’s De Nimes) already in place, Berry chose pieces from Serena & Lily that were kid-friendly but not juvenile. Emma Bazilian, House Beautiful, "Gray Malin Reveals His Twins' Beachy-Luxe Playroom," 26 Nov. 2018 The three juvenile occupants of the vehicle were released to the custody of their parents. Fox News, "Teen arrested after leading police on 40-mile high speed chase in stolen car," 2 Oct. 2018 Not even having Archie framed for murder and sent to a nightmare juvenile detention facility where the warden runs a deeply unconstitutional underground fight club! Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Everything You Need to Know About Kelly Ripa Joining the Cast of Riverdale," 7 Nov. 2018 Several defense witnesses have testified about violent encounters McDonald had with authorities at a juvenile detention facility months earlier. Fox News, "The Latest: Expert explains PCP effect on Laquan McDonald," 27 Sep. 2018 Robert Straley contributed to a book that chronicled the abuse of young boys at the juvenile justice facility known as Dozier. Carol Marbin Miller, miamiherald, "A victim of vile abuse at Florida reform school, he spent his life fighting for justice," 10 July 2018 In Iraq, at least 1,036 children were held in juvenile detention facilities on suspicion of links with the Islamic State. Satoshi Sugiyama, New York Times, "U.N. Reports Sharp Increase in Children Killed or Maimed in Conflicts," 27 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Yet, imposing a life sentence on a juvenile that would require her to serve at least 51 years before even being eligible for parole consideration is too harsh, especially in light of the extraordinary steps Ms. Brown has taken to rebuild her life. Bridget Read, Vogue, "Cyntoia Brown, Sentenced to Life in Prison as a Juvenile Victim of Sex Trafficking, Will Finally Go Free," 7 Jan. 2019 On Monday, Guilford Police arrested and charged a juvenile with second-degree manslaughter in connection to Ethan’s death. Joseph De Avila, WSJ, "Family of Connecticut Shooting Victim Pushes Tougher Gun-Storage Law," 27 Nov. 2018 In August 2014, a North Carolina mother was arrested and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile for allegedly helping her 16-year-old son try the fire challenge. Allyson Chiu, The Seattle Times, "Internet ‘fire challenge’ leaves 12-year-old Detroit girl severely burned," 21 Aug. 2018 But Judd and other commission members did make several recommendations for improving the Promise Program, including combining school and criminal records so officials can get a full picture of a juvenile's behavior. Terry Spencer, chicagotribune.com, "Official: Parkland school shooting suspect's mom let him buy gun," 10 July 2018 The remaining three men and a juvenile struggled to stay afloat, officials said. CBS News, "Border Patrol: We rescued 4 illegal immigrants from El Paso canal," 22 June 2018 Both Jones and a juvenile have been charged with murder, robbery, and tampering with evidence. Christine Pelisek, PEOPLE.com, "Body of Missing Ky. Woman with Cancer Is Found in Woods, and 3 Are Charged with 'Despicable' Crime," 18 June 2018 The other five were charged as juveniles and were not named. Colin Campbell, baltimoresun.com, "Eight teens charged with riot, thwarted escape at Frederick County juvenile detention center," 9 Apr. 2018 In 2012, another landmark case, Miller v. Alabama, abolished mandatory life without parole for juveniles. Nick Penzenstadler, USA TODAY, "Texas shooting suspect won’t face death penalty, could be paroled," 19 May 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.

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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

Adjective and Noun

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

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Statistics for juvenile

Last Updated

18 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for juvenile

The first known use of juvenile was in 1625

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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

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on juvenile

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with juvenile

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for juvenile

Spanish Central: Translation of juvenile

Nglish: Translation of juvenile for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of juvenile for Arabic Speakers

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).


a complex dispute or argument

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