pu·​er·​ile | \ ˈpyu̇(-ə)r-əl How to pronounce puerile (audio) , -ˌī(-ə)l \

Definition of puerile

2 : childish, silly puerile remarks

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Other Words from puerile

puerilely \ ˈpyu̇(-​ə)r-​ə(l)-​lē How to pronounce puerilely (audio) , -​ˌī(-​ə)l-​lē \ adverb
puerility \ ˌpyu̇(-​ə)r-​ˈi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce puerility (audio) \ noun

Did You Know?

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 On October 9th, Trump sent a remarkably puerile letter to the Turkish leader, warning him not to go too far. Robin Wright, The New Yorker, "Turkey, Syria, the Kurds, and Trump’s Abandonment of Foreign Policy," 20 Oct. 2019 On first glance, his height suggests a puerile persona. Sam Patten, WIRED, "Kostya and Me: How Sam Patten Got Ensnared in Mueller’s Probe," 14 Aug. 2019 Much of this, of course, is childhood fabrication; puerile hero worship leaving an indelible mark on my memory. Aram Mrjoian, Longreads, "Bearing the Weight of My Grandfathers’ Old Clothes," 15 June 2019 Check your privilege, not to mention your taste and decorum, at the door before experiencing this rough and ready revisionist mythology of the Aztecs that merges bloody history with puerile hilarity. Karen D'souza, The Mercury News, "Review: Outrageous ‘Kiss My Aztec!’ premieres at Berkeley Rep," 8 June 2019 On a more practical and obvious level, what joins these people and parties together from the various corners of the world is their puerile longing for a mythic past where everything was right and certain. Corey Seymour, Vogue, "I Watched the New Steve Bannon Documentary, The Brink, So You Don’t Have To," 27 Mar. 2019 Marvel’s sketches for the film were less puerile but wholly impressionistic, and so Carter began her customary deep dive. Rob Haskell, WSJ, "In ‘Black Panther,’ Costume Designer Ruth E. Carter Found a Career-Defining Challenge," 1 Nov. 2018 But no public figure would go further than that, given the genre’s reputation for being puerile and pulpy. Craig Fehrman, New York Times, "The Mystery Buffs in the White House," 23 May 2018 Her job here is to eye-roll at the puerile antics and then to cue the audience’s warm, fuzzy feeling about these allegedly lovable lunkheads. Michael Phillips, chicagotribune.com, "'Tag' review: Don't these guys have anything else to do?," 14 June 2018

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

1527, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for puerile

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

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The first known use of puerile was in 1527

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Last Updated

10 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Puerile.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/puerile. Accessed 28 January 2020.

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More Definitions for puerile


How to pronounce puerile (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of puerile

formal + disapproving : silly or childish especially in a way that shows a lack of seriousness or good judgment


pu·​er·​ile | \ ˈpyu̇(-ə)r-əl, -ˌīl How to pronounce puerile (audio) \

Medical Definition of puerile

1 : marked by or suggesting childishness and immaturity
2 : being respiration that is like that of a child in being louder than normal puerile breathing

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More from Merriam-Webster on puerile

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for puerile

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with puerile

Spanish Central: Translation of puerile

Nglish: Translation of puerile for Spanish Speakers

Comments on puerile

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


showing steady, earnest care and effort

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