[chil-druh n]


plural of child.



noun, plural chil·dren.

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.

Origin of child

before 950; Middle English; Old English cild; akin to Gothic kilthai womb
Related formschild·less, adjectivechild·less·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for children

Contemporary Examples of children

Historical Examples of children

  • Again he recurred to his early years, and talked fondly of his wife and children.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • "I must make you acquainted with my wife and children," he said.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • Winter was near and he had no money to buy cloaks for his children.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • They had no children and this settlement assured them a peaceful old age.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • Parents, proceeded she, when children are young, are pleased with every thing they do.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

British Dictionary definitions for children



the plural of child


noun plural children

  1. a boy or girl between birth and puberty
  2. (as modifier)child labour
a baby or infant
an unborn babyRelated prefix: paedo-
with child another term for pregnant
a human offspring; a son or daughterRelated adjective: filial
a childish or immature person
a member of a family or tribe; descendanta child of Israel
a person or thing regarded as the product of an influence or environmenta child of nature
Midland English and Western English dialect a female infant
Derived Formschildless, adjectivechildlessness, nounchildly, adjective

Word Origin for child

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

Word Origin and History for children

plural of child (q.v.)



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

children in Medicine




A person who has not yet reached puberty.
A son or daughter; an offspring.
A person not of legal age; a minor.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with children


In addition to the idiom beginning with child

, also see

  • second childhood


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.