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From Middle English birthe (1250), from earlier burthe, burde,[1] from Old Norse burðr, byrd[2] (Old Swedish byrth, Swedish börd), replacing Old English gebyrd (rare variant byrþ)[3], equivalent to bear +‎ -th. The Old Norse is from Proto-Germanic *burdiz (compare Old Frisian berde, berd); Old English gebyrd is from prefixed *gaburþiz (compare Dutch geboorte, German Geburt), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰr̥tis (compare Latin fors (luck), Old Irish brith), from *bʰer- (to carry, bear). More at bear.



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birth (countable and uncountable, plural births)

  1. (uncountable) The process of childbearing; the beginning of life.
  2. (countable) An instance of childbirth.
    Intersex babies account for roughly one per cent of all births.
  3. (countable) A beginning or start; a point of origin.
    the birth of an empire
  4. (uncountable) The circumstances of one's background, ancestry, or upbringing.
    He was of noble birth, but fortune had not favored him.
    • 1843, William H. Prescott, History Of The Conquest Of Mexico And History Of The Conquest Of Peru[1], The Modern Library, page 42:
      without reference to birth, but solely for their qualifications
  5. That which is born.
    • 1692, Ben Jonson, “Epigrams”, in The Works of Ben Jonson[2], page 288:
      That poets are far rarer births than kings.
    • 1761, Joseph Addison, The Works of Joseph Addison[3], volume 3, John Baskerville, page 49:
      Others hatch their eggs and tend the birth till it is able to shift for itself.
  6. Misspelling of berth.


  • (beginning of life): death


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


birth (not comparable)

  1. A familial relationship established by childbirth.
    Her birth father left when she was a baby; she was raised by her mother and stepfather.



birth (third-person singular simple present births, present participle birthing, simple past and past participle birthed)

  1. (dated or regional) To bear or give birth to (a child).
  2. (figuratively) To produce, give rise to.
    • 2006, R. Bruce Hull, Infinite Nature[4], University of Chicago Press, ↑ISBN, page 156:
      Biological evolution created a human mind that enabled cultural evolution, which now outpaces and outclasses the force that birthed it.

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  1. ^ Robert K. Barnhart, ed., Chambers Dictionary of Etymology (1988; reprint, Edinburgh: Chambers, 2008), 95.
  2. ^ Richard Cleasby and Gudbrand Vigfusson's 1874 Icelandic-English dictionary.
  3. ^ Joseph Bosworth and T. Northcote Toller's 1898 Anglo-Saxon dictionary.



From birë (hole). The meaning of 'son, little boy' is a -th lengthening of bir 'son'.


birth m (indefinite plural birthe, definite singular birthi, definite plural birthat)

  1. pimple, blemish
  2. son, little boy

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