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[bairn; Scot. beyrn] /bɛərn; Scot. beɪrn/
noun, Scot. and North England.
a child; son or daughter.
Origin of bairn
before 900; Middle English bern, barn, Old English bearn; cognate with Gothic, Old Norse, Old High German, Old Saxon, barn, Old Frisian bern, Middle Dutch baren, Albanian me barrë pregnant; akin to Lithuanian bérnas boy, fellow, bear1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for bairn
Historical Examples
  • Hath he no the smooth face o' a bairn and the thews' o' Behemoth?'

    Micah Clarke Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Too awful it is for an aged man to bide and bear, that his bairn so young rides on the gallows.

    Beowulf Anonymous
  • But, at any rate, she was his wife, and the bairn would be his bairn.

    Is He Popenjoy?

    Anthony Trollope
  • An', to tell the truth, sir, I'm no muckle mair nor a bairn in that respeck mysel'.

    David Elginbrod George MacDonald
  • "I haena seen the bairn," replied David, in repressed perturbation.

    David Elginbrod George MacDonald
  • I was not old, in heart—it pattered like a bairn's steps to every glimpse and sentence of her.

    Gilian The Dreamer Neil Munro
  • You forget I was but a bairn when we romped in the hay-dash.

    John Splendid Neil Munro
  • The bairn joined in her tears till M'Iver took it in his arms.

    John Splendid Neil Munro
  • "Jamie was richt like Joey when he was a bairn," Hendry said.

    A Window in Thrums

    J. M. Barrie
  • I speired at 'im what he meant by terrifyin' a bairn, but he didna say naething.

    A Window in Thrums

    J. M. Barrie
British Dictionary definitions for bairn


/bɛən; Scottish bern/
(Scot & Northern English) a child
Word Origin
Old English bearn; related to bearm lap, Old Norse, Old High German barn child
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for bairn

"child" (of any age), Old English bearn "child, son, descendant," probably related to beran ("to bear, carry, give birth;" see bear (v.)). Originally not chiefly Scottish, but felt as such from c.1700. This was the English form of the original Germanic word for "child" (see child). Dutch, Old High German kind, German Kind are from a prehistoric *gen-to-m "born," from the same root as Latin gignere. Middle English had bairn-team "brood of children."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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