Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A deserted or abandoned child of unknown parentage.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An abandoned child, left by its parent(s), often a baby left at a convent or similar safe place.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A deserted or exposed infant; a child found without a parent or owner.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An infant found abandoned or exposed; a child without a parent or claimant.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a child who has been abandoned and whose parents are unknown

Etymologies

Middle English, from found, past participle of finden, to find; see find.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
found +‎ -ling (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • You see, sir, I'm a poor foundling from the Belfast Asylum, shoved out by the mother that bore me, upon the wide wurld, long before I knew that I was in it.

    Roughing It in the Bush

  • So they call the foundling "Mary Rose" and make a solemn oath to stick together and make a good life "for the roses".

    Sweet Valley? Implicit Racism & Other thoughts

  • Their foundling was the rightful King of Birnam-and small wonder there were assassins seeking him.

    The Lark And The Wren

  • A foundling is a foundling, anywhere in Thorbardin.

    The Gates of Thorbardin

  • “But this so-called foundling is a perfect monster of abomination, ” said Jehanne.

    I. Charitable Souls. Book IV

  • But when his comrade, the true father, heard this tale from him he said to himself, "This matter must have been after such fashion," and he was certified that the foundling was his son, for that he had heard the history told by the mother of the babe with the same details essential and accidental.

    Arabian nights. English

  • The Magi, to their credit, told Astyages that his dream had been fulfilled, that Cyrus -- as we must now call the foundling prince -- had fulfilled it by becoming a king in play, and the boy is let to go back to his father and his hardy Persian life.

    Historical Lectures and Essays

  • Though called a foundling hospital, it is in reality a general receptacle for all children, who are received up to a certain age, without exception, it being left entirely to the option of the parent to state their names and condition, and to contribute or not, to the future support of the child.

    A Journey in Russia in 1858

  • In the first half of the film, brother and sister Guillaume (Olivier Cruveiller) and Catherine (Fabienne Babe) are living together on a crumbling estate after their father's death, along with the "foundling" Roch (Lucas Belvaux) who their father adopted.

    Hurlevent (Wuthering Heights)

  • The children, when they were out of their father's hearing, began again to mock little Crivòliu and to call him "foundling," and the other children in the school did the same.

    Italian Popular Tales

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