words for children


Senior Member
American English
I started a new glossary, in a different format, for words used to refer to children.

This seems to be one of the richest and most confusing aspecs of many languages, as many of the terms are not only slang, but convey subtle nuances of meaning.

For example, in english, a brat is not the same as an urchin.

So I thought it would be interesting to see the words used in different languages, along with an explanation of the context and meaning of each particular term.

Enjoy everyone.


  • words for children 1.xls
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  • in Portuguese you can say "putos". just don't ever change that "o" to an "a" for a group of girls, because it means something very very different!!!!
    In Argentina you can refer to a girl as a "piba" or a boy as a "pibe" and a group of them as "pibes"
    I've already mentioned this in a couple of threads, but the term "wawa" or "huahua" (spelling varies) is commonly used in the Andes for babies and young children, even among non-Quechua speakers. A boy is a "llocallo" and a girl is an "imilla".

    I can't remember now whether the glossary showed "bairn" in the English, which is a word that still shows up occasionally among people of Scottish descent. The Anglo-Saxons used a similar word, "bearn"; and I suspect that we'll see links with this in the Nordic languages.

    It seems to me that the glossary had some other gaps, but it takes forever to load PDF on this computer .... so I'm not going back right now to refresh my memory.
    Bartold: The purpose of this glossary forum is so that you can ADD YOUR OWN terms to the glossary. This way, the work is shared. If you don't know how to do this, click here.
    Here in Mexico we use very often the word "mocoso" it´s similar to brat...
    we also say escuincle-escuincla, morro -morra , but these are very informal words....
    chiquillo-chiquilla is very common, normally this word is neutral, but is informal, the President of our country became famous by refering to children with these words.... normally Presidents say : niños y niñas (these are formal words ).

    i believe in north Mexico they also say "plebe", we don´t say "bebe" (baby) that is very common among peruvians...
    I've tried for French, but I don't have much time now, so it's not complete...


    • words for children 1.xls
      23.5 KB · Views: 400
    In brazilian portuguese you can't use "puto", it sounds like an insulting word. We use "menino/menina" or "garoto/garota" for boy/girl, "moleque" for boy (informal), "guri/guria" for boy/girl (in southern states).
    In Argentina we use , "Niño" / "Niña" or plural "Niños".
    If you use " pendejo" or " pibes" it sounds bad , like an insult.

    You also can say : " chicos"

    example :
    the childrens are like angels
    Los chicos son como angeles
    Los niños son como angeles

    chau ¡
    we have one forgotten word in Spanish

    nene is used for boys and funnily also for grown up ones

    nena the same

    and very freqyently used

    crío baby or young boy
    cría baby or young girl
    In Dutch, there are many words:
    een baby = a baby
    een peuter = a child from +/-3 years old
    een kleuter = a child from +/- 5 years old
    een tiener = a teenager
    een puber = a teenager
    een meisje = a girl
    een jongen = a boy
    een kind = a general word for child
    Sorry for that I don't edit the file for that I don't own any office software. I also cannot know if some of the following words are already in.

    Göre - bad tempered girl
    Bub (archaic) - boy/teenager

    Мальчик (Malchik) - Boy
    Девочка (Devochka) - Girl
    Мальчишка (Malchishka)- ill-tempered boy
    Девчёнка (Devchonka)- ill-tempered girl
    Юныша (Yunisha) - male teenager / young man
    Девушка (Devushka) - female teenager / young lady
    Младенец (Mladenec) - Baby
    Малютка (Malyutka) - Little one
    Малыш (Malysh) - Kid
    Карапуз (Karapuz) - Toddler
    Ребёнок (Rebyonok) - Younger child
    Детя (Detya) - Child
    Детёныш (Detyonish) - Little Child

    Малюк (Malyuk) - Child

    Kodomo - Kid
    In Portuguese you can say "pitas" as a feminine version of the word "putos". That would avoid any uncomfortable situations.:p
    It is used for girls aged aprox. 8-15 and usually to those who try to behave as if they are older/do something stupid (at least that´s how I use it..:eek: )
    But I guess it´s not considered wrong or innapropriate if said otherwise.

    I think we can also say "pirralho" as a sinonym for "fedelho" -> brat; can´t we?

    In Swedish, kids is commonly translated to "ungar", or more correctly, "barn".
    When it comes to a girl, you can say either "flicka", "tjej" or "tös", being the last one maybe slang or a regional variant (from the swedish dialect skånska) but I can´t say that with certainty, so someone else will have to confirm that.(or not):rolleyes:

    A boy is refered to as "pojke" or "kille". The word "kille" has also the meaning of "boyfriend" (in a more teenager-ish environment) but it´s not that accentuated in the word, so there should be no confusions or any missunderstandings in a conversation, unless, of course, you are very clumsy with words.:D

    I'd like to add a couple to Majo_Trad's list from Guatemala:
    Kid = güiro (a), ishto (a)

    In El Salvador:
    Baby = chichí
    Kid = cipote

    Kid = chavalo, chingüin (a)
    Teenager = chavo (a)
    Interesting the "sardino-sardina"used in Colombia, because of the >German term "Backfisch" used for young girls, (means fish-fry)
    There are more analogies.Mexico: mocoso, in Venetian: mocoloso
    Portugal: putos, Trieste: putel,putela
    We say in Italian bambino/a,bambinello and also creatura, fantolino,frugolino,marmocchio, pargolo/pargoletto,piccino, ometto,ragazzetto,demonietto, fanciullo,giovinetto...
    Kid = chavalo, chingüin (a)
    Teenager = chavo (a)

    That´s funny, it´s also possible in Portuguese to call a kid "chavalo" or "chavala" (at least in Portugal:)), although it´s not seen as very nice, or at least, polite.:p

    What could be the etymological background of the word, for it to have (almost) the same meaning in Port. & in Honduras?

    What could be the etymological background of the word, for it to have (almost) the same meaning in Port. & in Honduras?


    I looked it up and all I found is "Chaval" (used in Spain). Perhaps that's where we got it from. Guatemalans use "chavo" as well (forgot to add it) same as our neighbors from Honduras.
    In Finnish you say:
    lapsi: "general" children or
    kakara : children but it's slang
    poika vauva: male baby
    tytto vauva: girl baby
    vauva: baby
    in italian:
    Bimbo: baby boy (every day language)
    Bimba: baby girl
    bambino or bambina: small boy or girl
    ragazzo: boy or better teenager
    ragazza: girl or better teenager
    in italian in different regions there are different ways to call the babies/children.
    Per ex.
    in Lombardia (Milano and so on ) and familiar way to call a boy or a girl is nano or nini or ninei,
    in Emilia-Romagna (as Piacenza) tata is a familiar way to call from a small girl till woman.... it means literally "nanny" but it is a tender way to call a friend... or near person
    There are a lot of different ways if I remember some other I'll let you kno.
    In Argentina's countryside you used to say 'gurí', 'gurises' (pl.). I'm almost sure this comes from Tupi-Guaraní.

    Regarding what's already been said about Argentina, I'll add that, while being a rather offensive term several years (decades?) ago, 'pendejo' is at the point of becoming pretty neutral nowadays.

    Also 'pibe' (origin unknown as far as I'm concerned) and 'bepi' (syllables inverted, rarely used today).

    Basque: 'haurra', 'haurrak' (pl.)
    'umea', 'umeak' (pl.)
    Ragazzo/a (teenager)

    These are maybe some regionals variants:
    Pischello/a (negative, it means also stupid, childish)
    Pivello/a (also like pischello, but it can means also boy/girlfriend)

    And from the dialect (Sardinian)
    Pitzoccu/a or pitzoccheddu/a (teenager)
    Pippiu/a (kid)

    and north-sardinian
    Steddu/a (kid)
    About portugueses or "putos" I heard a funny story about a Brazilian singer who went to Portugal and in the middle of the concert he greeted all "putos" and "putas" (because he thought the feminin word was formed with "a" instead of "o" ) and oh boy! everyone was shocked "how can this guy say such thing?" hahahaha (i.e. he greeted all the portugueses and the prostitutes)
    In Spanish:

    - chiquillo/chiquilla/chiquillos/chiquillas (until 12 years more or less)
    - chico/chica/chicos/chicas (usually for teenagers)
    - joven/jóvenes
    - chiquitín/chiquitina/chiquitines/chiquitinas (until 3 yrs aprox.)
    - chiquito/chiquita/chiquitos/chiquitas (boy/girl)
    - nene/nena/nenes/nenas
    Some in Portuguese (Portugal). The words are in plural and mostly in masculine, some of them don't have a gender:

    Pequenos or Pequenas (boy or girl)
    Chavalos (a jargon word)
    Canalha (argot: meaning children in the north of Portugal, and meaning bastard in the rest of Portugal...)
    Meninos or Meninas
    Rapazes or Raparigas
    This is a great discussion taking place, but the purpose of this forum is to create multilingual glossaries that people can refer to.

    Does anyone want to begin merging all of these wonderful translations into an Excel glossary? ;) You know you want to...... :rolleyes:
    Here in chile to the baby we said guaguas, to the kids between 3 to 12 years old we say cabro chico (male) cabra chica (female) , and to the teenagers we say : lolo (male, lola (female), lolos (a group)
    Парубок (Parubok) - young man
    Дівка (Divka) - young lady
    Юнак (Yunak) - male teenager / young man
    Юнка (Yunka) - female teenager / young lady
    Хлопець, Хлопчик (Hlopеts, Hlopchyk) - Boy
    Дівчинка (Divchynka) - Girl
    Хлопча (Malchishka)- ill-tempered boy
    Дівча (Devchonka)- ill-tempered girl
    Маля, Малюк (Malya, Malyuk) - Child
    Дитя, Дитина (Dytya, Dytyna) - Child
    Нeмовля (Nemovlya) - Little Child


    Μπόμπιρας ['bobiras] (m.)
    ToddlerΝήπιο ['nipi.o] (n.), κουτσούβελο [ku't͡suvelo] (n.)
    BratΠαλιόπαιδο [pa'ʎopeðo] (n.)
    UrchinΣκανδαλιάρης [skanða'ʎaris] (m.), σκανδαλιάρα [skanða'ʎara] (f.)
    KidΠιτσιρίκι [pit͡si'rici] (n.) (gen.), πιτσιρίκος [pit͡si'rikos] (m.), πιτσιρίκα [pit͡si'rika] (f.)
    RugratΖιζάνιο [zi'zani.o] (n.)
    InfantΒρέφος ['vrefos] (n.)
    AdolescentΈφηβος ['efivos] (m.), έφηβη ['efivi] (f.)
    BabyΜωρό [mo'ro] (n.)
    Ankle biterΠειραχτήρι [pira'xtiri] (n.)
    JuvenileΝεαρός [ne.a'ros] (m.), νεαρή [ne.a'ri] (f.)
    MinorΑνήλικος [a'nilikos] (m.), ανήλικη [a'nilici] (f.)
    YouthΝεολαία [ne.o'le.a] (f.)
    TeenagerΈφηβος ['efivos] (m.), έφηβη ['efivi]
    TeenybopperΝεαρούλης [ne.a'rulis] (m.), κοπελίτσα [kope'lit͡sa] (f.)
    BastardΝόθος ['noθos] (m.), νόθα ['noθa] (f.) (lit.); κωλόπαιδο [ko'lopeðo] (n.) (derog.)
    LadΠαλικάρι [pali'kari] (n.)
    YoungsterΜειράκιο [mi'raci.o] (n.)
    SonΓιός [ʝos] (m.) (lit.); αγόρι [a'ɣori] (n.) (metaph.)
    Daughterθυγατέρα [θiɣa'tera] (f.) (lit.); κόρη ['kori] (f.) (lit. & metaph.)
    BoyAγόρι [a'ɣori] (n.)
    GirlΚορίτσι [ko'rit͡si] (n.)
    Young manΝέος ['ne.os] (m.)
    Young ladyΝέα ['ne.a] (f.)
    BabeΜωρό [mo'ro] (n.) (lit.); μωρό [mo'ro] (n.) & πιπίνι [pi'pini] (n.) (metaph. for the a good looking girl, derog.)
    In Filipino we used these words associated with children :)
    baby, infant---sanggol
    tot, kid---paslit
    child, kid--anak, bata
    children---mga anak, mga bata
    daughter---anak na babae, babaeng anak, iha
    son---anak na lalake, lalaking anak, iho
    girl---batang babae, nene
    boy---batang lalake, totoy
    adolescent----nagbibinata, binatilyo (male) nagdadalaga, dalagita (female)
    young man--binata
    young woman--dalaga
    brat---pilyong bata
    minor age---minor de edad