Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A child secretly exchanged for another.
  • noun Archaic A changeable, fickle person.
  • noun Obsolete A person of deficient intelligence.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A child left or taken in the place of another; especially, in popular superstition, a strange, stupid, ugly child left by the fairies in place of a beautiful or charming child that they have stolen away.
  • noun Figuratively, anything changed for or put in the place of another, or the act of so changing.
  • noun One apt to change; a waverer.
  • Exchanged: specifically applied to a child fancied to have been exchanged for another by the fairies.
  • Given to change; inconstant; fickle: as, “studiously changeling,”

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Taken or left in place of another; changed.
  • adjective obsolete Given to change; inconstant.
  • noun One who, or that which, is left or taken in the place of another, as a child exchanged by fairies.
  • noun A simpleton; an idiot.
  • noun One apt to change; a waverer.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun mythology In British, Irish and Scandinavian mythology, an infant of a fairy, sprite or troll that the creature has secretly exchanged for a human infant.
  • noun informal, rare An infant secretly exchanged with another infant.
  • noun An organism which can change shape to mimic others.

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

  • noun a child secretly exchanged for another in infancy
  • noun a person of subnormal intelligence

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

change +‎ -ling

Examples

  • How about Lucas and Sascha's little one in changeling form?

    Saturday Morning Smile

  • "He didn't hurt the-" the word changeling was in her mind but would not come out of her mouth, and Elizabeth finished "'the little boy."

    Ill Met By Moonlight

  • No matter how old or young, the object is to deceive the parents into thinking that this changeling is actually their child.

    Excerpt: The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue

  • He leaned against the elvensteed, cold, empty, and exhausted, trying to dismiss his sense of loss and unable to decide whether the loss of Mwynwen or that of the changeling was the most painful.

    This Scepter'd Isle

  • Not us, Quark said in a tone suggesting the changeling was a Pakled.

    MILLENNIUM

  • The changeling was the only one on this station who would deliberately change history in order to make life more miserable than it already was for Quark.

    MILLENNIUM

  • The changeling was the only one on this station who would deliberately change history in order to make life more miserable than it already was for Quark.

    MILLENNIUM

  • Not us, Quark said in a tone suggesting the changeling was a Pakled.

    MILLENNIUM

  • Not us, Quark said in a tone suggesting the changeling was a Pakled.

    MILLENNIUM

  • The changeling was the only one on this station who would deliberately change history in order to make life more miserable than it already was for Quark.

    MILLENNIUM

Comments

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  • "Against the dark wall a figure appears slowly, a fairy boy of eleven, a changeling, kidnapped, dressed in an Eton suit with glass shoes and a little bronze helmet, holding a book in his hand." Joyce, Ulysses, 15

    January 1, 2008

  • WeirdNet doesn't believe in fairies... and the whole 'change' aspect gets a mention only in the third definition.

    March 10, 2008

  • In stamp collecting, a stamp whose color has been changed--intentionally or unintentionally--by contact with a chemical or exposure to light.

    August 25, 2008

  • Once he dreamt that it had come true and woke up in a cold panic, for in his dream she had been a silly, flaxen Clara, with the gold gone out of her hair and platitudes falling insipidly from her changeling tongue. - This side of Paradise - F. Scott Fitzgerald

    Hmmm...

    Was she dumb, causing her words to be dull?

    Was she acting like a silly child?

    Or was she switched a birth?

    March 2, 2009