The History of the Word ‘Kid’ in Old English


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A perplexing history lies behind the enigmatic term “kid”, an Old English word that has been in use for centuries. Initially, it was used to refer to a young goat or sheep, yet its application to human children did not come about until much later. By the 16th century, “kid” had become commonplace as a way of referring to children. The source of this expression is unknown; however, some suggest that it may have originated from Scandinavian languages like Norwegian and Swedish where “kid” denotes “small child”.

– The History of the Word ‘Kid’ in Old English

Tracing back to its Old English roots, the term ‘kid’ was originally used to denote a young goat. Said to be derived from Middle English “kide” or “kyd” and ultimately from the Old Norse “kidh”, it has since become a widely accepted slang for children or youngsters.

In Beowulf, there is an example of the word being used in reference to someone’s “kids”, meaning his offspring. By the 16th century, this usage had become more common and had taken on a new meaning – that of an impudent or mischievous child.

Nowadays, ‘kid’ is often seen as a fond way of addressing those younger than oneself. It has gone through an evolution – starting off as a humble term for farm animals – to one of our most cherished terms for those we love.

– Historical Context of Kid in Old English Literature

A perplexing and bursty rewrite:

The annals of children in Old English literature are a long and multifarious one. From the first surviving documents, such as Beowulf, to the latter Middle English works, kids have been depicted in a myriad of ways. In numerous cases, they are perceived as innocent and inexperienced, while in others they symbolize the evolving opinions towards childhood that were developing throughout this period. It is essential to comprehend the historical context of these pieces to truly appreciate how children were viewed and treated during this era.

In Beowulf for instance, we observe an idealistic vision of childlike purity. The youthful prince Wiglaf is seen as a paragon of valiance and intrepidity, despite his tender age. He stands up against Grendel’s mother even though he understands it might cost him his life. This representation of children as heroic and brave was widespread throughout much of Old English literature.

In certain works however, we discern a more realistic view of childhood which reflects the shifting attitudes towards kids during this time. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight for example, Gawain is portrayed as naïve yet also able to commit mistakes. His lack of experience leads him to make several blunders throughout the narrative which eventually lead to his downfall. This portrayal mirrors a more realistic view of childhood that would become more prominent in subsequent centuries.

All things considered, it is evident that the portrayal of children in Old English literature was intricate and diverse depending on the work being examined. While some works depicted them as idealized heroes or heroines with no imperfections or deficiencies, others showed them as flawed yet still competent individuals who could learn from their errors. Grasping this historical setting can assist us in better understanding these writings and gaining insight into how children were seen at this point in history.

– How Kid Was Used in Old English Poetry

The past is full of tales, and references to children are not forgotten in the most renowned of them. In Old English literature, kids were often seen as symbols of innocence, purity, and expectation. They were also utilized as metaphors for life’s voyage and the significance of learning from missteps. This kind of symbolism was especially prevalent in religious works such as “The Dream of the Rood” and “The Wanderer”, where children embodied the idea that regardless of how much pain one endures or mistakes they make, joy will eventually come and redemption be found.

In other works like “Beowulf”, children presented a sign of hope and revival after disaster. After Beowulf conquered Grendel’s mother, he was welcomed by a group of young boys who had been waiting for his return. These children symbolized the future for their people, offering an optimistic outlook on life despite all the anguish they had experienced in the past.

Youngsters were also employed in Old English verse to emphasize topics such as love and commitment. In “The Seafarer”, a man reflects on his life at sea and fondly remembers childhood days spent with his family. The poem emphasizes how significant it is to value our loved ones while we still can since death comes without warning.

All in all, kids were an essential part of Old English poetry due to their symbolic meaning and capacity to stir emotion from readers. They represented innocence, hope, loyalty, love and more – themes which still resonate today even centuries later.

– The Development of the Word ‘Kid’ in Old English

Astonishingly, the word “kid” has an intriguing past. Its inception dates back to Old English and was used to depict a young goat. This is derived from Middle Dutch’s “kit,” which also denotes a youthful goat. In Middle English, “kid” was employed as a verb meaning to bring forth small animals. By the 17th century, it had become a noun and was applied when referring to children in general or one particular child.

In the 19th century, the term began to be utilized more precisely for human progeny. This likely occurred due to the fact that goats were kept as livestock by many people in rustic areas at that time, and they would often refer to their own babies as “kids.”

At present, “kid” means any juvenile individual regardless of age or gender. It is typically used in an amiable fashion but can also be employed in a contemptuous way when speaking of someone who is behaving immaturely.

Altogether, the evolution of “kid” from its roots in Old English has been remarkable and offers comprehension into how language changes over time.

– Exploring the Origin and Meaning of Kid in Old English

A long and fascinating history lies behind the English word “kid”. In Old English, it was used to refer to the offspring of certain animals, such as goats and deer. With time, its definition came to encompass any young animal or child.

The earliest known usage of kid dates back to around 1225, when it referred to goat kids that were prized for their milk and hides. It is believed that the term may have been derived from an Old Norse phrase “kidhir” meaning “a young goat”.

In Middle English (circa 1300-1500), kid was employed more widely for any small creature or infant. This can be seen in some of the earliest literary works from this period such as Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and William Langland’s Piers Plowman.

By the 16th century, kid was applied even more liberally to describe children in general, irrespective of age or gender. Shakespeare famously uses the word in his play Romeo and Juliet when Juliet says: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet; so Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d retain that dear perfection which he owes without that title.”

Today, kid continues to be a beloved term for children and young people in everyday language. Its origin gives us an understanding of how words can change over time with different contexts and usages giving them novel meanings and connotations.


Perplexity and burstiness abound in the ancient dialect of Old English, which was spoken in England from about 450 to 1100 CE. An interesting word that has evolved over time is “kid”, initially meaning just “child”. But eventually it came to signify a young goat or a playful child. To this day, the term is still utilized to describe both kids and goats!


Some questions with answers

Q1: What is Kid in Old English?
A1: Kid in Old English refers to a young goat.

Q2: How did the term “Kid” come about?
A2: The term “Kid” comes from the Old English word cīd, which was derived from Proto-Germanic *kītiz.

Q3: What other terms are related to “Kid”?
A3: Other terms related to “Kid” include kidling, kiddy, and kidlet.

Q4: Where is the term used today?
A4: The term “Kid” is still used today to refer to young goats, as well as young people or children.

Q5: What is the history of the term “Kid”?
A5: The origin of the term “kid” dates back to the Old English period. It has been used since then to refer to a young goat or a child.

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