pu·​er·​ile ˈpyu̇(-ə)r-əl How to pronounce puerile (audio)
: childish, silly
puerile remarks
ˈpyu̇(-ə)r-ə(l)-lē How to pronounce puerile (audio)

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Puerile may call to mind qualities of youth and immaturity, but the term itself is no spring chicken. On the contrary, it's been around for more than three centuries, and its predecessors in French and Latin, the adjectives puéril and puerilis, respectively, are far older. Those two terms have the same basic meaning as the English word puerile, and they both trace to the Latin noun puer, meaning "boy" or "child." Nowadays, puerile can describe the acts or utterances of an actual child, but it more often refers (usually with marked disapproval) to occurrences of childishness where adult maturity would be expected or preferred.

Examples of puerile in a Sentence

told the teenagers that such puerile behavior would not be tolerated during the ceremony allowed the company to be taken over by a bunch of puerile whippersnappers fresh out of business school
Recent Examples on the Web The reflexive response to the sight of André Onana standing, yet again, with his head bowed and his shoulders slumped after Manchester United’s gloriously puerile draw with Galatasaray on Wednesday is sympathy. Rory Smith, New York Times, 1 Dec. 2023 Trump is, always and forever, a puerile bully, stuck perpetually on the fifth-grade playground. Susan B. Glasser, The New Yorker, 14 Mar. 2024 The inexplicable twists are interspersed with puerile action scenes. Kyle Chayka, The New Yorker, 13 Feb. 2024 Hoping to usurp him from the throne, Kuzco's advisor, Yzma (Eartha Kitt), cooks up a plot to poison the puerile figurehead. Devin Nealy, EW.com, 16 Oct. 2023 As legal weed proliferates across the country, many storefronts have adopted a sterile, corporate aesthetic, while others lean into puerile graphics of, say, red-eyed Rick and Morty smoking blunts. Ezra Marcus, New York Times, 30 Jan. 2024 Pop music, pointless and puerile, was beneath his contempt. Joel Selvin, Smithsonian Magazine, 7 Nov. 2023 Dan Harmon’s brand of comedy — sometimes puerile, sometimes erudite, usually with both sensibilities engaged in a graphic on-screen wrestling match — isn’t for everybody. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 24 Sep. 2023 And with that puerile quarrel between stubborn warlords over the right to own and to rape a girl, Western literature begins. Judith Thurman, The New Yorker, 11 Sep. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'puerile.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French or Latin; French puéril, from Latin puerilis, from puer boy, child; akin to Sanskrit putra son, child and perhaps to Greek pais boy, child — more at few

First Known Use

1527, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of puerile was in 1527


Dictionary Entries Near puerile

Cite this Entry

“Puerile.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/puerile. Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


pu·​er·​ile ˈpyu̇(-ə)r-əl How to pronounce puerile (audio)
: showing a lack of maturity, seriousness, or good judgment
puerile remarks

Medical Definition


pu·​er·​ile ˈpyu̇(-ə)r-əl, -ˌīl How to pronounce puerile (audio)
: marked by or suggesting childishness and immaturity
: being respiration that is like that of a child in being louder than normal
puerile breathing

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