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Kid vs. Child: What's the Difference?

By Janet White || Published on January 24, 2024
'Kid' is an informal term often used to refer to a child, while 'child' is a more formal term referring to a young human, typically under the age of puberty.

Key Differences

'Kid' is a colloquial term commonly used in informal settings to refer to a young person. 'Child', on the other hand, is the more formal term that is used in legal, medical, and educational contexts.
The word 'kid' can convey a sense of familiarity or informality, often used among friends and family. 'Child' is more neutral and is preferred in formal writing and documentation.
In some contexts, 'kid' might imply a slightly older age group, often associated with playfulness or mischief. In contrast, 'child' is a broader term that encompasses all stages of early human development, from infancy to adolescence.
'Kid' is sometimes perceived as less respectful than 'child', especially in professional or formal situations. 'Child' is universally accepted and is the standard term in policies and guidelines relating to young people.
'Kid' has a more casual tone, it's often used affectionately. The term 'child', however, maintains a more consistent and formal usage across various disciplines.

Comparison Chart


Informal, colloquial
Formal, standard

Usage Context

Casual conversation, familiar settings
Legal, medical, educational contexts


Playfulness, informality
Neutral, comprehensive development stages


Less formal, sometimes less respectful
Universally respectful and standard

Age Implication

Often implies slightly older children
Encompasses all stages from infancy to adolescence

Kid and Child Definitions


Used to refer to a playful young person.
Those kids next door are always up to something fun.


A young human being below the age of puberty.
The child was learning to read.


Informal term for someone's child.
We're having a birthday party for my kid next week.


Used in legal and medical contexts to refer to a minor.
The rights of the child are protected by law.


A young person, often used informally.
The kids were playing soccer in the park.


Formal term for a person's offspring.
Their child is starting school this year.


Informal reference to a group of young people.
The kids in my class are really excited about the field trip.


Standard term in educational and policy discussions.
This policy aims to improve the wellbeing of every child in our community.


A term of endearment for a young individual.
Hey, kid, great job on your report card!


Refers to the early stages of human development.
As a child, she showed remarkable talent in music.


A young goat.


A person between birth and puberty.


One of the young of certain similar animals.


A person who has not attained maturity or the age of legal majority.


Can 'child' be used in legal documents?

Yes, 'child' is the appropriate term in legal contexts.

Is 'child' used in academic research?

Yes, it's the standard term in academic and research contexts.

Is 'child' used in policy-making?

Yes, especially in policies related to youth and education.

Can 'kid' be disrespectful?

It can be, depending on the context and tone.

Can adults be referred to as 'kids'?

Informally, yes, often affectionately or humorously.

Do these terms have different emotional connotations?

'Kid' can be more affectionate or casual, while 'child' is neutral.

Is 'kid' appropriate in all contexts?

No, it's best used in informal or familiar contexts.

Is 'kid' a recent term?

It's been used informally for several decades.

Are there cultural differences in the use of these terms?

Yes, usage can vary by region and culture.

Does 'child' refer to both genders?

Yes, 'child' is gender-neutral.

Do 'kid' and 'child' have the same origin?

No, 'kid' originally referred to a young goat.

Is 'child' used in governmental regulations?

Yes, especially in laws and regulations concerning minors.

Is it correct to use 'kids' in advertising targeting parents?

Yes, it's commonly used in marketing and advertising.

Is 'kid' acceptable in professional settings?

Generally, 'child' is preferred in professional contexts.

Does 'child' imply a certain level of care?

Yes, it often implies care and protection.

Is 'kid' ever used in a derogatory sense?

Rarely, but it can be used dismissively.

Can 'child' be used in everyday conversation?

Yes, though 'kid' is more common colloquially.

Is 'child' more formal than 'kid'?

Yes, it's the more formal and universally accepted term.

Can 'kid' be used in educational settings?

Informally, yes, but 'child' is more common in formal education.

Do these terms have different implications in parenting?

'Kid' is more casual, while 'child' is more formal and comprehensive.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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