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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
  • The child was left at the foundling Hospital in my presence.

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

  • For might not the kitten, he thought, be more than Peggy's foundling be the other Thing disguised?

    Gilian The Dreamer Neil Munro
  • 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
  • The foundling had become quite a pet charity with Parliament and people.

    Art in England Dutton Cook
  • 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
  • And now, that I am out of the foundling, we must not travel quite so fast.

    Japhet in Search of a Father Frederick Marryat
  • 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
  • They steal from others, and are not very likely therefore to leave them at the foundling.

    Japhet in Search of a Father Frederick Marryat
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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