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 confusedfondling foundling Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for foundling

Historical Examples of foundling

  • 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.


    Emile Zola

  • And he certainly has a lad from the Foundling, of the age you mention, at his place.


    Emile Zola

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

British Dictionary definitions for foundling



an abandoned infant whose parents are not known

Word Origin for foundling

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

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