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[found-ling] /ˈfaʊnd lɪŋ/
an infant or small child found abandoned; a child without a known parent or guardian.
Origin of foundling
First recorded in 1250-1300, foundling is from the Middle English word found(e)ling. See found1, -ling1
Can be confused
fondling, foundling. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for foundling
Historical Examples
  • I can put it for you in a breath--I am an English gentleman; you are a Dutch foundling!

    In the Valley Harold Frederic
  • It was she who brought up the two foundling children, Marjolin and Cadine.

    A Zola Dictionary J. G. Patterson
  • The child was left at the foundling Hospital in my presence.

    Fruitfulness Emile Zola
  • And he certainly has a lad from the foundling, of the age you mention, at his place.

    Fruitfulness Emile Zola
  • For might not the kitten, he thought, be more than Peggy's foundling be the other Thing disguised?

    Gilian The Dreamer Neil Munro
  • He brought me to the foundling asylum, where I was inscribed as No. 37.

  • The foundling had become quite a pet charity with Parliament and people.

    Art in England

    Dutton Cook
  • Indeed, so disrespectful is he that I sometimes wonder if he is not a foundling.

    The Autobiography of Methuselah

    John Kendrick Bangs
  • And now, that I am out of the foundling, we must not travel quite so fast.

    Japhet in Search of a Father Frederick Marryat
  • They steal from others, and are not very likely therefore to leave them at the foundling.

    Japhet in Search of a Father Frederick Marryat
British Dictionary definitions for foundling


an abandoned infant whose parents are not known
Word Origin
C13: foundeling; see find
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 foundling

"deserted infant," c.1300, from Middle English founden "found," past participle of finden (see find (v.)) + diminutive suffix -ling. Cf. Dutch vondeling, German Findling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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