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

Definition of puerile

1 : juvenile
2 : childish, silly puerile remarks

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Other Words from puerile

puerilely \ ˈpyu̇(-​ə)r-​ə(l)-​lē How to pronounce puerile (audio) , -​ˌī(-​ə)l-​lē \ adverb
puerility \ ˌpyu̇(-​ə)r-​ˈi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce puerile (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 So many movies nowadays are full of noise and mayhem and puerile effects, and Land, refreshingly, has none of that. Michael Granberry, Dallas News, "North Texas native Robin Wright grapples with grief in ‘Land,’ her new movie," 12 Feb. 2021 First, Democrats convinced millions of Americans that a handful of inept and puerile social-media ads were enough to overturn a presidential election in the most powerful nation on earth. David Harsanyi, National Review, "The Democrats’ Dangerous Delegitimization of the Election," 3 Sep. 2020 The gaslighting, the puerile tweets, the divisiveness, the rampant ignorance and the utter inability to put the country before his fragile ego. S.e. Cupp Tribune News Service (tns), Star Tribune, "My uncharacteristic vote for the Democratic ticket hinges on Biden's VP pick," 7 Aug. 2020 That kind of decorous vulgarity is a major component here, along with more puerile genital jokes than your average frat house. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Love Wedding Repeat': Film Review," 10 Apr. 2020 Brews Brothers is heavy on puerile shenanigans, many if not most based on bodily fluids and injecting those fluids and miscellaneous body parts into the brewing process. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Brews Brothers': TV Review," 9 Apr. 2020 Yes, much of the laughs come from a puerile place, but there’s some genuine heart amid the gags. New York Times, "What to Stream on Valentine’s Day," 13 Feb. 2020 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

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

23 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Puerile.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/puerile. Accessed 17 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for puerile



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

More from Merriam-Webster on puerile

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for puerile

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