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From Middle English childhode, childhod, from Old English ċildhād (childhood), equivalent to child +‎ -hood. Compare dialectal Dutch kindheid (childishness), German Low German Kinnerheid (childhood), and German Kindheit (childhood).


  • IPA(key): /ˈt͡ʃaɪldhʊd/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aɪldhʊd
  • Hyphenation: child‧hood


childhood (countable and uncountable, plural childhoods)

  1. (chiefly uncountable) The state of being a child.
    • 2013 September-October, Terrie Moffitt et al., “Lifelong Impact of Early Self-Control”, in American Scientist:
      To our own surprise, our 40-year study of 1,000 children revealed that childhood self-control strongly predicts adult success, in people of high or low intelligence, in rich or poor, and does so throughout the entire population, with a step change in health, wealth, and social success at every level of self-control.
  2. The time during which one is a child, from between infancy and puberty.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, “Foreword”, in The China Governess[1]:
      He stood transfixed before the unaccustomed view of London at night time, a vast panorama which reminded him [] of some wood engravings far off and magical, in a printshop in his childhood.
  3. (by extension) The early stages of development of something.

Derived terms[edit]


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See also[edit]

Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of childhode