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changeling

[cheynj-ling] /ˈtʃeɪndʒ lɪŋ/
noun
1.
a child surreptitiously or unintentionally substituted for another.
2.
(in folklore) an ugly, stupid, or strange child left by fairies in place of a pretty, charming child.
3.
Philately. a postage stamp that, by accident or intention, has been chemically changed in color.
4.
Archaic.
  1. a renegade or turncoat.
  2. an imbecile.
Origin of changeling
1545-1555
1545-55; change + -ling1
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for changeling
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The child supposed to have been left by the Fairies in the cradle, or elsewhere, was commonly called a changeling.

    Welsh Folk-Lore Elias Owen
  • The changeling inherits, and the process is repeated, step by step.

    The Cuckoo Clock Wesley Barefoot
  • A little one-off, a changeling without clan or magic of any kind.

  • What was the dear Pums saying with regard to her changeling?

    A Modern Tomboy L. T. Meade
  • A winickey child—one which was weak, frail, and peevish—was of the nature of a changeling.

  • She called Irene a fairy, a changeling, and nothing could soothe her or comfort her.

    A Modern Tomboy L. T. Meade
  • The changeling was usually an old man, and many were the efforts made to get him to betray his identity.

  • Irene isn't a changeling at all, and she never had anything to do with the fairies.

    A Modern Tomboy L. T. Meade
  • Soon was heard the rustle of innumerable fairies, come to dance to the changeling's music.

British Dictionary definitions for changeling

changeling

/ˈtʃeɪndʒlɪŋ/
noun
1.
a child believed to have been exchanged by fairies for the parents' true child
2.
(archaic)
  1. an idiot
  2. a fickle or changeable person
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for changeling
n.

1550s, "one given to change," from change (n.) + diminutive suffix -ling. Meaning "person or thing left in place of one secretly taken" is from 1560s; specific reference to an infant or young child (usually stupid or ugly) supposedly left by the faeries in place of one they took is from 1580s. An earlier word for it was oaf or auf.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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