[ nee-oh-neyt-l ]
/ ˌni oʊˈneɪt l /
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of or relating to newborn children.
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Origin of neonatal

First recorded in 1900–05; neo- + natal


ne·o·na·tal·ly, adverbpost·ne·o·na·tal, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does neonatal mean?

Neonatal is an adjective used to describe things related to newborn babies and their care.

Neonatal is a technical term used in the context of medicine and healthcare. You’re most likely to see it used in terms like neonatal unit, neonatal care, and neonatal nurse, and in the names of certain medical conditions that affect newborns. Its noun form, neonate, is another word for a newborn.

Example: My sister is a neonatal nurse who specializes in caring for newborns with certain health problems.

Where does neonatal come from?

The first records of neonatal come from around 1900. It’s formed from the prefix neo-, meaning “new,” and natal, which means “relating to birth.”

So how newly born does a newborn have to be to be involved with things labeled neonatal? Definitions vary, but the term typically refers to the first 28 days (four weeks) of life, and is often especially used to refer to the first week. The neonatal period is a very vulnerable and rapidly changing time in a baby’s life, when they will undergo daily changes. Neonatal nurses and other practitioners specialize in the care of infants during this important period for growth and development.

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What are some other forms related to neonatal?

  • neonatally (adverb)
  • postneonatal (adjective)

What are some synonyms for neonatal?

  • newborn (when used as an adjective)

What are some words that share a root or word element with neonatal



What are some words that often get used in discussing neonatal?


How is neonatal used in real life?

Neonatal is a technical term that’s typically used by doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. In everyday conversation, most people just use the term newborn.



Try using neonatal!

Is neonatal used correctly in the following sentence? 

Children who are more than two years old are treated in the neonatal ward.

How to use neonatal in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for neonatal

/ (ˌniːəʊˈneɪtəl) /

of or relating to newborn children, esp in the first week of life and up to four weeks old

Derived forms of neonatal

neonatally, adverb
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

Medical definitions for neonatal

[ nē′ō-nātl ]

Of or relating to the first 28 days of an infant's life.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.