changeling

[ cheynj-ling ]
/ ˈtʃeɪndʒ lɪŋ /

noun

a child surreptitiously or unintentionally substituted for another.
(in folklore) an ugly, stupid, or strange child left by fairies in place of a pretty, charming child.
Philately. a postage stamp that, by accident or intention, has been chemically changed in color.
Archaic.
  1. a renegade or turncoat.
  2. an imbecile.

Origin of changeling

First recorded in 1545–55; change + -ling1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for changeling

British Dictionary definitions for changeling

changeling

/ (ˈtʃeɪndʒlɪŋ) /

noun

a child believed to have been exchanged by fairies for the parents' true child
archaic
  1. an idiot
  2. a fickle or changeable person
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 changeling

changeling


n.

1550s, "one given to change," from change (n.) + diminutive suffix -ling. Meaning "person or thing left in place of one secretly taken" is from 1560s; specific reference to an infant or young child (usually stupid or ugly) supposedly left by the faeries in place of one they took is from 1580s. An earlier word for it was oaf or auf.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper