[bairn; Scot. beyrn]

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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bairn

Historical Examples of bairn

  • 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.



  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for bairn



Scot and Northern English a child

Word Origin for bairn

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

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