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[chahyld] /tʃaɪld/
noun, plural children.
a person between birth and full growth; a boy or girl:
books for children.
a son or daughter:
All my children are married.
a baby or infant.
a human fetus.
a childish person:
He's such a child about money.
a descendant:
a child of an ancient breed.
any person or thing regarded as the product or result of particular agencies, influences, etc.:
Abstract art is a child of the 20th century.
a person regarded as conditioned or marked by a given circumstance, situation, etc.:
a child of poverty; a child of famine.
British Dialect Archaic. a female infant.
Archaic. childe.
with child, pregnant:
She's with child.
Origin of child
before 950; Middle English; Old English cild; akin to Gothic kilthai womb
Related forms
childless, adjective
childlessness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for childless
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The deed of the Charity did not absolutely specify “childless widows.”

    The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad
  • I am a childless man, yet here I am as the parent of all of them.

    In the Valley Harold Frederic
  • In a certain village there lived a very rich couple; but they were childless.

    Aino Folk-Tales Basil Hall Chamberlain
  • As it was true, they got a child, though they had been childless.

    Aino Folk-Tales Basil Hall Chamberlain
  • This she added, remembering that the woman before her was childless.

British Dictionary definitions for childless


noun (pl) children
  1. a boy or girl between birth and puberty
  2. (as modifier): child labour
a baby or infant
an unborn baby related prefix paedo-
with child, another term for pregnant
a human offspring; a son or daughter related adjective filial
a childish or immature person
a member of a family or tribe; descendant: a child of Israel
a person or thing regarded as the product of an influence or environment: a child of nature
(Midland English & Western English, dialect) a female infant
Derived Forms
childless, adjective
childlessness, noun
childly, adjective
Word Origin
Old English cild; related to Gothic kilthei womb, Sanskrit jathara belly, jartu womb
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 childless

c.1200, from child (n.) + -less. Related: Childlessness.



Old English cild "fetus, infant, unborn or newly born person," from Proto-Germanic *kiltham (cf. Gothic kilþei "womb," inkilþo "pregnant;" Danish kuld "children of the same marriage;" Old Swedish kulder "litter;" Old English cildhama "womb," lit. "child-home"); no certain cognates outside Germanic. "App[arently] originally always used in relation to the mother as the 'fruit of the womb'" [Buck]. Also in late Old English, "a youth of gentle birth" (archaic, usually written childe). In 16c.-17c. especially "girl child."

The wider sense "young person before the onset of puberty" developed in late Old English. Phrase with child "pregnant" (late 12c.) retains the original sense. The sense extension from "infant" to "child" also is found in French enfant, Latin infans. Meaning "one's own child; offspring of parents" is from late 12c. (the Old English word was bearn; see bairn). Figurative use from late 14c. Most Indo-European languages use the same word for "a child" and "one's child," though there are exceptions (e.g. Latin liberi/pueri).

The difficulty with the plural began in Old English, where the nominative plural was at first cild, identical with the singular, then c.975 a plural form cildru (genitive cildra) arose, probably for clarity's sake, only to be re-pluraled late 12c. as children, which is thus a double plural. Middle English plural cildre survives in Lancashire dialect childer and in Childermas.

Child abuse is attested by 1963; child-molester from 1950. Child care is from 1915. Child's play, figurative of something easy, is in Chaucer (late 14c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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childless in Medicine

child (chīld)

  1. A person between birth and puberty.

  2. An unborn infant; a fetus.

  3. An infant; a baby.

  4. One who is childish or immature.

  5. A son or daughter; an offspring.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for childless


Related Terms

flower child

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with childless


In addition to the idiom beginning with child also see: second childhood
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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