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  1. an infant or a young animal that is not yet weaned.

Origin of suckling

late Middle English word dating back to 1400–50; see origin at suck, -ling1


  1. Sir John,1609–42, English poet.


[suhk-uh l]
verb (used with object), suck·led, suck·ling.
  1. to nurse at the breast or udder.
  2. to nourish or bring up.
  3. to put to suck.
verb (used without object), suck·led, suck·ling.
  1. to suck at the breast or udder.

Origin of suckle

1375–1425; late Middle English sucklen; see suck, -le
Related formsun·suck·led, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for suckling

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • But when we come to Suckling's lines we find that there is a difference.

    The Lyric

    John Drinkwater

  • The phenomena of pregnancy, birth and suckling are known to all, so that I shall be brief.

  • But I found a fierce and feverish delight in suckling my child.

  • Her face is that of a lioness, and she is suckling two young lions at her breasts.

  • She took me like a child of suckling time, And cradled me in roses.


    John Keats

British Dictionary definitions for suckling


  1. an infant or young animal that is still taking milk from the mother
  2. a very young child

Word Origin

C15: see suck, -ling 1; related to Middle Dutch sūgeling, Middle High German sōgelinc


  1. Sir John. 1609–42, English Cavalier poet and dramatist


  1. to give (a baby or young animal) milk from the breast or (of a baby, etc) to suck milk from the breast
  2. (tr) to bring up; nurture
Derived Formssuckler, noun

Word Origin

C15: probably back formation from suckling
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

Word Origin and History for suckling


mid-15c., "an infant at the breast," from suck + diminutive suffix -ling. Cf. Middle Dutch sogeling, Dutch zuigeling, German Säugling. Meaning "act of breast-feeding" is attested from 1799.



c.1400, perhaps a causative form of Middle English suken "to suck" (see suck), or a back-formation from suckling (though this word is attested only from mid-15c.). Related: Suckled; suckling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper