We all know what an infant is–a newborn baby. Pretty simple. What I didn’t realize was that it actually comes from the Latin in meaning “not” and fari meaning “to speak.” So it literally means “unable to speak.” Who knew? Historically, infant in Latin meant a babe in arms, but then in languages like French and Italian it got applied to all children, hence the French enfant, which just means “child” and the Italian fanciullo.

It’s interesting to note too that historically in English, the word could be applied to any child as well, usually up to about age 7. The word came into use in English in the 1300s, and while the age range has changed over time, the general meaning hasn’t. It’s also worth noting that the Germanic words from which we get child also used to mean “a newborn.”

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