little/small/young children

Hi there! what's the most appropriate variant among little/small/young children. As to me, little sounds a bit strange. I used to use these adjectives interchangeably till now. I'd rather say small children. However, I'm not sure. And, yes, the context:
passengers with small/little/young children board the plane first.
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    They are all pretty interchangeable and in common use. I have a feeling that 'young' is the most common of the three, borne out by the Ngram Viewer:,small+children,young+children&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=0&smoothing=3 There's no obvious nuance where one is more affectionate or more formal than another, or anything like that, though no doubt there are slight differences in particular situations. I don't think airlines would say 'little' here, but I can't work out why it sounds less suitable.

    'Young' seems more suitable when talking about their level of schooling.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think I would take "young children" in relation to airline rules. I think this is the somewhat more formal use.

    I see little and small as being less formal and could, just possibly, be taken as "little or small for their age" i.e. stunted growth; young does not suffer from this disadvantage.
    < Previous | Next >