We often say...

There was a baby boy

The purpose is I want the listener to understand that I saw a baby who was of male gender.

But I want to convey the same thing looking at a kid (say 5-8 yr old)

There was a kid boy (hurling stones at a cute puppy)

If the former is okay, the latter should be but still, to my non-native ears, it sounds off.

Also, baby boy is okay as baby serves as an adjective, why is not kid okay as in kid brother? I understand that the whole word is considered as a noun but then kid is more like an adjective there.

[Please note that I want to restrict the word to 'kid' over 'young boy' or the like just to avoid that someone should not take him as an adolescent or a teenager. I'm not getting into who do we refer to as a kid. There's no one answer to that].

The main question is -is it okay to address him that way? If not, what you natives prefer?

  • 1
    The term "baby boy" when used descriptively, as you have done, generally indicates an infant, or, at the oldest, a toddler. You would not call a 7-year-old male human an baby boy; just a boy. Further, we use baby boy to emphasize the child's youth, and corresponding cuteness and innocence, so baby boys don't hurl stones at puppies: bad boys do. The construction "kid boy" is not used. A boy is a kid, but a kid is either a boy or a girl. A kid who is male is a boy. With all that said, an 80-year-old grandma can refer to her 55-year-old son as "my baby boy" (because to her, he is).
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 20:32

6 Answers 6


My gut feeling aligns with yours – it sounds off to me. I did some research on Google that seems to confirm our hunches.

One reason it sounds off, I think, is because kid and boy both connote a young age. So, the phrase sounds redundant. You could simply say:

There was a boy hurling stones at a cute puppy.


There was a kid hurling stones at a cute puppy.

I suppose one could argue that a "boy" could be an adoloscent, so, some clarification about age might be in order. However, if you wanted to clarify, you could say:

There was a young boy hurling stones at a cute puppy.

Ngrams found plenty of hits for "a young boy" and "a young girl," but came back empty-handed for "a kid boy" and "a kid girl".

I found several hits on Google for "a kid boy", but they were excellent examples of why hit counts need to be examined carefully. Many of them had extra punctuation, like this:

If you had a kid, boy or girl, and wanted to know...

Some even used the word boy as an exclamation, like this Pinterest tag:

Pins about: Toys I had as a kid. Boy I miss them!

There were several hits that were labels to stock illustrations:

Illustration of a Kid Boy Dressed as Prince Sitting on a Student Chair

but redundancy makes sense in that context, because those who title images in an image database want customers to get hits if they search for boy or search for kid.

But I'd avoid it in a context like the one you are asking about.

  • Yeah, this answer exactly describes my state of mind! +1 :) as always, useful! thanks.
    – Maulik V
    Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 9:50
  • 1
    I wonder it the ending of the word baby plays a role: it ends with the "i" sound and the "y" letter, like numerous adjectives (funny, angry, happy etc.) Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 21:18

This is really a question about redundancy

Kid = a child (colloquial)

Baby = an infant

Boy = a male child


[Baby] boy = a male child, [specifically a baby]

Which makes sense, as we're specifying that the boy is not just a boy, but is a baby. Without boy we do not know the gender, but without baby we do not know it is an infant

On the other hand:

[Kid] boy = A male child, [who is a child]

"kid" is redundant, "boy" already tells us that the subject is a child, we do not need to add "kid" in addition to this.

Note that other uses continue this convention

[Kid] brother = A [young] male sibling, as opposed to a male sibling of unspecified age

Again, the 'kid' is adding context, that the brother in question is a child. This has passed into colloquial use as "younger" brother, even when both siblings are adults, but this is an informal extension of the literal meaning.

  • +1 It's intriguing that boy child and girl child are idiomatic to some. I wonder about other uses of boy as an adjective. Would the reverse, boy kid be acceptable? By the way @Maulik V you may/can use kid boy...if you want, but not if you wanted to sound idiomatic... :)
    – user6951
    Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 15:43

As CopperKettle says, you can't use both together like that; you really need to choose one over the other.

'Kid' is colloquial, 'boy' is formal & far less likely to be misunderstood - whether or not young goats can throw stones the image would be there for someone to pick up on.

US usage would allow 'kid brother' to indicate a younger sibling, but it won't stretch to 'kid boy'.
Some Br E dialects use 'our kid' to mean 'my brother' but age isn't specified in that - could be older or younger.

To give any indication of his actual age, you'd have to be more specific - "There was a boy of about 8… or even, "There was a pre-pubescent boy… or just "There was a young boy..

Interestingly, using 'a boy of about [age]' - it seems fairly natural to say a boy of about 5, or 6 or 8 or 10… but 7 or 9 doesn't work in my head, for no real reason I can think of.

  • 1
    I merely mention the age range to put my point of 'kid'. I just want to say that I saw a boy (kid). By kid, the listener should understand that I'm not talking about Justin Bieber (I mean adolescent!)
    – Maulik V
    Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 9:28
  • 2
    I call people up to about 25 'just a kid'. It really doesn't nail it down in colloquial speech. Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 9:29
  • I agree with @Tetsujin that the age of a "kid" is relative to the age of the person speaking. A 90 year old might call a 40 year old a kid to mean "(much) younger than me and my peers". I think "kid brother" is used in the same sense.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 13:39

As an American English speaker, I'd personally say "I saw a little boy (hurling stones at a cute puppy)." Young boy is accurate, but to me it would sound stiff.... similar to saying "elderly man" (formal) instead of "old man" (common.)

  • I would be much more likely to say "little boy" than "young boy." Little conveys not only youth, but small size, suggesting a much younger age, probably prepubescent.
    – barbecue
    Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 2:42
  • Little boy is a very good option! +1
    – Maulik V
    Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 4:46

I guess "a kid boy" would not sound natural. "Baby" is used widely in an adjective sense with "boy" or "girl", but I've never saw or heard "kid" used in the same way.

  • 3
    But then 'kid brother' seems to be a common phrase.
    – Maulik V
    Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 9:28
  • @MaulikV - indeed! Interesting. Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 9:32
  • 2
    Injudicious use of tautology never stopped a dialect from using it in constructions; from 'a huge big thing' to '[Torpenhow Hill]' (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torpenhow_Hill): ach, one of these days I'll figure out how to get a link in a comment ;) Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 9:38
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    @Tetsujin Put the quotes inside the square brackets; or if you don't want them to show up, put them around the entire consruction '[display](link)' Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 12:18
  • @Tetsujin: here's a helpful page. Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 12:20

While "Baby" can be a noun or adjective, in this instance "Baby" becomes an adjective - thus "Baby Boy" means a boy that is a baby. (Substitute another adjective and it makes similar sense, i.e. "Hungry Boy") - "Baby Boy" is a phrase that is entirely a noun, but if you look at the individual pieces it's Adj. / Noun.

"Kid" is, however, not an adjective. Since "Kid" is a colloquial term ("Kid" being a young goat), it makes little sense to say "Kid-Boy" because it essentially means "Young-Goat Boy." Substitute another noun, and you'll have the same "weird" sound - "Son Boy."

  • 3
    I think most native speakers would not confuse kid as a young goat and kid as a young human. 'Kid' is not an adjective, but nouns can be used as adjectives. As in shoe box or grandfather clock, although both those examples have become compound words.
    – user6951
    Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 21:57
  • I don't see him saying that someone would actually mistake a goat for a human. He was merely pointing out that kid is semi-slang.
    – barbecue
    Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 2:41

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