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

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

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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

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 Garza is being held in lieu of $3 million bail at a juvenile detention facility in Kane County. Clifford Ward, chicagotribune.com, "16-count indictment handed up against DuPage teen accused in fatal shooting that officials say was gang-related," 9 July 2018 The Chesapeake crab population was down 18 percent in an annual survey this winter, but a surging group of juvenile crabs could grow big enough to catch late in the season. Scott Dance, baltimoresun.com, "After July Fourth crab feasts, an uncertain season for Maryland seafood industry," 6 July 2018 Ray, a Dallas County juvenile probation officer, had been found dead that evening by Grand Prairie firefighters responding to a house fire. Deanna Boyd, star-telegram, "He worked to steer troubled youths from crime, but Ray Hernandez died a murder victim," 2 July 2018 At some point in the night, there will come an opportunity to suggest something really, really juvenile. Sophia Benoit, GQ, "14 Ways to Exude Big Dick Energy at Any Barbecue," 2 July 2018 Nance said San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, Public Defender Jeff Adachi and Superior Court supervising juvenile Judge Monica Wiley all agreed with his decision. Matier & Ross, SFChronicle.com, "City closes youth corrections facility — residents keep running away," 27 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 The ruling in the 2005 case Roper v. Simmons banned the death penalty for juvenile offenders. Eric Levenson, CNN, "Why the Santa Fe shooting suspect cannot get the death penalty or life without parole," 21 May 2018 Beginning in 1642, at least 366 juvenile offenders have been executed in the United States, according to research by Victor Streib, a capital punishment expert. Nick Penzenstadler, USA TODAY, "Texas shooting suspect won’t face death penalty, could be paroled," 19 May 2018 While there, Kayla was offered the option of either being charged with a misdemeanor or participating in a program for first-time juvenile offenders. Jenice Armstrong, Philly.com, "Delaware County middle schooler caught in Twisted Tea debacle was treated too harshly | Jenice Armstrong," 9 May 2018 Prisons Commissioner Blanche Carney has said the prisons have policies in place to reduce punitive segregation for juveniles. Samantha Melamed, Philly.com, "Should Philly keep holding kids in its adult jails?," 5 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.

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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


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


see juvenile entry 1

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Statistics for juvenile

Last Updated

11 Oct 2018

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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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).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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