July 06, 2013
infant (noun)
\IN-funt\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: a child in the first period of life
How do you use it?
Dan and his family have lived in the city since he was just an infant.
Are you a word wiz?

Human babies are essentially helpless at birth, unable to do much of anything for themselves. The Latin ancestor of "infant" describes one activity that young babies can't do. What activity do you think that is?

Now you're talking if you chose answer D! A bawling baby can't tell you what is wrong and that makes the etymology of "infant" especially fitting. "Infant" comes from the Latin adjective "infans," meaning "incapable of speech" or "young." The noun "infans" originally referred to a baby who could not talk yet, but later it was used for any child, no matter how talkative. French speakers adopted the Latin word and its broader use and English speakers borrowed the word from French. At first, English speakers used "infant" for any child, but over time, they limited its meaning to the original Latin sense, using "infant" only for babies.
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