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From change +‎ -ling.


  • IPA(key): /ˈt͡ʃeɪnd͡ʒlɪŋ/
  • (file)


changeling (plural changelings)

  1. (mythology) In British, Irish and Scandinavian mythology, an infant of a fairy, sprite or troll that the creature has secretly exchanged for a human infant.
    • 1961, Muriel Saint Clare Byrne, Elizabethan Life in Town and Country, page 285:
      His nurse had told him all about changelings, and how the little people would always try to steal a beautiful human child out of its cradle and put in its stead one of their own ailing, puking brats []
  2. (informal, rare) An infant secretly exchanged with another infant; swapling.
  3. (science fiction and fantasy) An organism which can change shape to mimic others.
  4. (obsolete) A simpleton; an idiot.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Macaulay to this entry?)
    • Dryden
      Changelings and fools of heaven, and thence shut out.
  5. (obsolete) One apt to change; a waverer.
    • Shakespeare
      Fickle changelings.