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[found-ling] /ˈfaʊnd lɪŋ/
an infant or small child found abandoned; a child without a known parent or guardian.
Origin of foundling
1250-1300; Middle English found(e)ling. See found1, -ling1
Can be confused
fondling, foundling. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for foundling
Historical Examples
  • Who picked you out of the gutter, miss, and brought you up and fed you, when you would otherwise have gone to the foundling?

    La Mere Bauche Anthony Trollope
  • You like to call the child your foundling, but personally you've done nothing for her.

  • To a woman for curing a foundling boy of a broken belly, 10s.

  • At the word “foundling,” Genevieve had exclaimed aloud in horror.

    Journeys Through Bookland, Vol. 7 Charles H. Sylvester
  • I, who might have set the matter right, was far away from the foundling and all that belonged to it.

    No Thoroughfare Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins
  • I am nameless, a rose of the wilderness, a foundling, as you said.

    A Little Girl in Old Quebec Amanda Millie Douglas
  • But nobody else need say this of Sophia, and as for Tom he was declared to be a foundling from the first.

    Res Judicat Augustine Birrell
  • The child was left at the foundling Hospital in my presence.

    Fruitfulness Emile Zola
  • They called Philip the foundling king because he had no business to expect to be king.

    A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot
  • For might not the kitten, he thought, be more than Peggy's foundling be the other Thing disguised?

    Gilian The Dreamer Neil Munro
British Dictionary definitions for foundling


an abandoned infant whose parents are not known
Word Origin
C13: foundeling; see find
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 foundling

"deserted infant," c.1300, from Middle English founden "found," past participle of finden (see find (v.)) + diminutive suffix -ling. Cf. Dutch vondeling, German Findling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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