Etymology
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child (n.)

Old English cild "fetus, infant, unborn or newly born person," from Proto-Germanic *kiltham (source also of 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 (such as 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.):

I warne yow wel, it is no childes pley To take a wyf withouten auysement. ["Merchant's Tale"]
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abuse (v.)
Origin and meaning of abuse

early 15c., "to misuse, misapply" (power, money, etc.), from Old French abuser "deceive, abuse, misuse" (14c.), from Vulgar Latin *abusare, from Latin abusus "an abusing; a using up," past participle of abuti "use up, consume," also "to misuse, abuse, misapply, outrage," from ab "off, away from" (see ab-) + uti "use" (see use).

Also in reference to forbidden sexual situations from early 15c., but originally meaning incest, masturbation (self-abuse), homosexuality, prostitution, etc. From 1550s specifically as "to misuse sexually, ravish," but OED 2nd ed. marks this obsolete and the modern use "subject (someone) to unwanted sexual activity" is likely a fresh coinage from late 20c. Specifically of drugs, from 1968. Meaning "attack with harsh language, revile" is from c. 1600. Related: Abused; abusing.

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abuse (n.)
Origin and meaning of abuse
mid-15c., "improper practice," from Old French abus (14c.), from Latin abusus "a using up" (see abuse (v.)). From 1570s as "violation, defilement" (surviving in self-abuse "masturbation," if at all). In reference to drugs by 1961. Modern use in reference to unwanted sexual activity is from late 20c. Earlier in Middle English was abusion "wicked act or practice, shameful thing, violation of decency" (early 14c.), "an insult" (mid-14c.), from Old French abusion, from Latin abusio.
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brain-child (n.)
"idea, creation of one's own mind," 1850, from brain (n.) + child. Earlier was the alliterative brain-brat (1630).
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child-bearing (n.)

also childbearing, "bringing forth of a child, the action of producing children," late 14c., from child + verbal noun of bear (v.). As an adjective from late 14c.

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child-proof (adj.)
1933, from child (n.) + proof (n.). As a verb by 1951.
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love-child (n.)

"child born out of wedlock, child of illicit love," 1798, from love (n.) + child. Compare German Liebeskind. Earlier was love brat (17c.).

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self-abuse (n.)

c. 1600, "self-deception, abuse of one's own person or powers," from self- + abuse (n.). As a synonym for "masturbation," it is recorded from 1728; an earlier term was self-pollution (1620s).

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misuse (n.)

late 14c., "improper use, misapplication," from mis- (1) "bad, wrong" + use (n.) and in part from Old French mesus "abuse, excess, misdeed." As "abuse, ill-treatment" it is attested from 1590s.

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