The Important Difference Between Childish and Childlike

The Important Difference Between Childish and Childlike: You might have heard the two words used on different people and formulated for a moment that they meant the same things. In reality, they don’t. ‘Childish’ is frequently used with very negative implications. In this article, we will show you the major difference between childish and childlike.

The word ‘childlike’ is used with more positive implication, depending on the age of the person being addressed. What frequently confuses most people is the root word for both adjectives being ‘child’ while the suffixes ‘ish’ and ‘like’ almost mean the same things.

Sometimes, people confuse one for the other, using one where the other should be used. In the following section, however, we will look at 10 ways in which the two adjectives vary in their usage and perception.


The Important Difference Between Childish and Childlike

1. Age: Age plays a vital factor in understanding the differences between the two words. The word ‘childish’ which means a type of behavior typical to children with respect to their absurdity and immaturity is however never targeted at children.

Basically, a person has to not be a child in order to qualify for the adjective. ‘Childlike’ on the contrary is used on both children and adults alike to refer to qualities such as innocence, and ebullient, brimming personalities.


2. Purpose: But how subjective this may be, the aim of using the word ‘childish’ is frequently to draw attention to a person’s apparently immature character, attitudes, and actions. The aim of using ‘childlike’ is to draw attention to a person’s harmless and naiveté.

3. Offense: When someone tells another that the other is behaving in a childish manner, there is a great likelihood that the other person will be hurt or offended. When a person tells another that the other is behaving in a childlike manner, the proneness to offend is so little as to be considered negligible.

4. Reception: In general, words are received in a diversity of manners depending on the situations in which they are said and how they are said. But, ‘Childish’ tends to be received in a more provocative manner than ‘childlike’ which may likely be received warmly and happily.

5. Appeal: In general, the word ‘childlike’ has a warm, sparkling, modest appeal which is generally pleasing and cordial. The word ‘childish’ on the contrary has a provocative and offensive. It also has a huge appeal which is generally unpleasant and hardly promotes courtesy.

6. Synonyms: One way to tell words aside is by knowing the kinds of words they are gramatically similar to by virtue of their synonyms. The synonyms of ‘childish’ are: immature, jejune, puerile and babyish while the synonyms of ‘childlike’ are innocent, naïve, and frank, unpretentious.

7. Adore Vs Abhor: In stories or writings generally, one may notice that people use the word ‘childlike’ frequently in a way that shows adoration on a person. On the contrary, they use the word ‘childish’ in a way that indicates a hatred of that person’s character.

8. Emotional connotations: Using the word ‘childish’ can imply emotionally, a leaning towards irritability, moody impatience, and anger. Using the word ‘childlike’ on the other hand can signify emotionally a leaning towards gleeful, happy, and innocent things.

9. Positive/Negative: As can be gathered so far, the two words can be contrasted along negative and positive lines, ‘childish’ is the word with a more negative claim and ‘childlike’ being the one with a more positive claim.

10. Disparaging: In conclusion, as you must know by now, ‘childish’ is basically a disparaging word that is a word intended to bad-mouth or belittle, while ‘childlike’ is not.

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