I looked up kid and got two different meanings.

  1. (of a goat) give birth
  2. deceive (someone) in a playful way; tease

Both are known to me in meanings such as "I'm kidding you" and "it's not my kid". However, I got curious as to the etymology of the two different meanings. If I'm to speculate, I can think of two ways to explain it.

First way would be some, to me unknown, common origin that gradually over time wandered off in to separate directions. The second way that those two have different origins and only happen to be spelled the same way.

So the question is which of the two above, if any, is the correct one in this case.

1 Answer 1


There's no need to guess. Check the etymology dictionary

kid (n.) c. 1200, "the young of a goat," from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse kið "young goat". Extended meaning "child" is first recorded as slang 1590s, established in informal usage by 1840s.

kid (v.) "tease playfully," 1839, earlier, in thieves' cant, "to coax, wheedle, hoax" (1811), probably from kid (n.), via notion of "treat as a child, make a kid of."

The other verb meaning of "kid" comes from the name of the juvenile of the species, but this is typical for a couple of other domesticated farm animals (foal a baby horse, calf a baby cow).

So the two definitions are related, via a ~200 year-old slang expression that gradually found its way into common use.

  • 1
    So in a parallel universe, maybe they say just calfing or just foaling, hehe. Jan 14, 2019 at 22:05
  • @KonradViltersten possibly, but then goats are particularly mischievous, and baby goats even more so. But you can certainly make the pun, Young horses just won't stop foaling around.
    – Andrew
    Jan 14, 2019 at 22:26
  • @KonradViltersten also I forgot the verb lamb for sheep.
    – Andrew
    Jan 14, 2019 at 22:26

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .