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

  • n. The emergence and separation of offspring from the body of the mother.
  • n. The act or process of bearing young; parturition: the mare's second birth.
  • n. The circumstances or conditions relating to this event, as its time or location: an incident that took place before my birth; a Bostonian by birth.
  • n. The set of characteristics or circumstances received from one's ancestors; inheritance: strong-willed by birth; acquired their wealth through birth.
  • n. Origin; extraction: of Swedish birth; of humble birth.
  • n. Noble or high status: persons of birth.
  • n. A beginning or commencement. See Synonyms at beginning.
  • transitive v. Chiefly Southern U.S. To deliver (a baby).
  • transitive v. Chiefly Southern U.S. To bear (a child).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The process of childbearing.
  • n. An instance of childbirth.
  • n. A beginning or start; a point of origin.
  • n. The circumstances of one's background, ancestry, or upbringing.
  • adj. A familial relationship established by childbirth.
  • v. To bear or give birth to (a child).
  • v. To produce, give rise to.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act or fact of coming into life, or of being born; -- generally applied to human beings.
  • n. Lineage; extraction; descent; sometimes, high birth; noble extraction.
  • n. The condition to which a person is born; natural state or position; inherited disposition or tendency.
  • n. The act of bringing forth.
  • n. That which is born; that which is produced, whether animal or vegetable.
  • n. Origin; beginning.
  • n. See berth.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The fact of being born; nativity.
  • n. By extension, any act or fact of coming into existence; beginning; origination: as, the birth of Protestantism.
  • n. The act of bearing or bringing forth; parturition: as, “at her next birth,”
  • n. The condition into which a person is born; lineage; extraction; descent: as, Grecian birth; noble birth: sometimes, absolutely, descent from noble or honorable parents and ancestors: as, a man of birth.
  • n. That which is born; that which is produced.
  • n. Nature; kind; sex; natural character.
  • n. In astrology, nativity; fortune.
  • n. See berth.

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

  • v. cause to be born
  • n. the process of giving birth
  • n. the time when something begins (especially life)
  • n. the kinship relation of an offspring to the parents
  • n. a baby born; an offspring
  • n. the event of being born


Middle English, probably of Scandinavian origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
(Can we verify(+) this etymology?) From Old Norse burðr (rare variant byrð), which replaced Old English gebyrd (rare variant byrþ)[2] in Middle English. The Old Norse word derived from the Proto-Germanic *burþiz, *burdiz; another descendant of this root is the Old Frisian berde, berd. The Old English word derived from Proto-Germanic *gaburdiz; another descendant of this root is the Old High German giburt (Middle High German geburt, modern German Geburt). All of these words derive from Proto-Indo-European *bʰer-. (Wiktionary)



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirtyfive for years.
    -Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

    July 29, 2009