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See also: Child and Child.


A woman with two children c. 1933.


Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English child, from Old English ċild, from Proto-West Germanic *kilþ, *kelþ, from Proto-Germanic *kelþaz (womb; fetus), from Proto-Indo-European *ǵelt- (womb).

Cognate with Danish kuld (brood, litter), Swedish kull (brood, litter), Icelandic kelta, kjalta (lap), Gothic 𐌺𐌹𐌻𐌸𐌴𐌹 (kilþei, womb), Sanskrit जर्त (jarta), जर्तु (jártu, vulva).

Alternative forms[edit]

  • childe (archaic)
  • chile (eye dialect, Southern US)
  • (plural): childrens (intentionally incorrect, nonstandard); childs (nonstandard, rare)


child (plural children or (dialectal or archaic) childer)

  1. (broadly) A person who has not yet reached adulthood, whether natural (puberty), cultural (initiation), or legal (majority).
    Synonym: kid
    Hyponyms: newborn, neonate, preteen, adolescent, tweenager, teenager, tween, teen, preadult
    Go easy on him: he is but a child.
    • 2003 Powerpuff Girls: 'Twas the Fight Before Christmas (narration)
      And not just the children, teenagers too. Chuck wants a football, Kathleen a tattoo.
    • 2013 June 7, Joseph Stiglitz, “Globalisation is about taxes too”, in The Guardian Weekly[1], volume 188, number 26, page 19:
      It is time the international community faced the reality: we have an unmanageable, unfair, distortionary global tax regime. [] It is the starving of the public sector which has been pivotal in America no longer being the land of opportunity – with a child's life prospects more dependent on the income and education of its parents than in other advanced countries.
    1. (pediatrics, sometimes, in a stricter sense) A kid aged 1 to 11 years, whereas neonates are aged 0 to 1 month, infants are aged 1 month to 12 months, and adolescents are aged 12 years to 18 years.
      Regular chores can be appropriate for both children and adolescents, given age-appropriate limits on difficulty level and time on task.
      Hypernym: kid
      Coordinate terms: newborn, neonate, infant, adolescent, teenager, teen
  2. (with possessive) One's direct descendant by birth, regardless of age; one's offspring; a son or daughter.
    My youngest child is forty-three this year.
    His adult children visit him yearly.
  3. (cartomancy) The thirteenth Lenormand card.
  4. (figurative) A figurative offspring, particularly:
    1. A person considered a product of a place or culture, a member of a tribe or culture, regardless of age.
      The children of Israel.
      He is a child of his times.
      • 1984, Mary Jane Matz, The Many Lives of Otto Kahn: A Biography, page 5:
        For more than forty years, he preached the creed of art and beauty. He was heir to the ancient wisdom of Israel, a child of Germany, a subject of Great Britain, later an American citizen, but in truth a citizen of the world.
      • 2009, Edward John Moreton Dunsany, Tales of Wonder, page 64:
        Plash-Goo was of the children of the giants, whose sire was Uph. And the lineage of Uph had dwindled in bulk for the last five hundred years, till the giants were now no more than fifteen foot high; but Uph ate elephants []
    2. Anything derived from or caused by something.
    3. (computing) A data item, process, or object which has a subservient or derivative role relative to another.
      The child node then stores the actual data of the parent node.
      • 2011, John Mongan, Noah Kindler, Eric Giguère, Programming Interviews Exposed:
        The algorithm pops the stack to obtain a new current node when there are no more children (when it reaches a leaf).
  5. Alternative form of childe (youth of noble birth)
  6. (mathematics, programming) A subordinate node of a tree.
  7. (obsolete, specifically) A female child, a girl.
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]
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See also[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English childen, from the noun child.


child (third-person singular simple present childs, present participle childing, simple past and past participle childed)

  1. (archaic, transitive, intransitive) To give birth; to beget or procreate.

Further reading[edit]

Middle English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]


From Old English ċild, from Proto-Germanic *kelþaz.



child (plural children or childre or child or childres)

  1. A baby, infant, toddler; a person in infancy.
  2. A child, kid; a young person.
  3. An offspring, one of one's progeny.
  4. A childish or stupid individual.
  5. (Chrisitanity) The Christ child; Jesus as a child.
  6. (figurative) A member of a creed (usually with the religion in the genitive preposing it)
  7. A young male, especially one employed as an hireling.
  8. A young noble training to become a knight; a squire or childe.
  9. The young of animals or plants.
  10. A material as a result or outcome.

Related terms[edit]


  • English: child
  • Scots: child; chield