One would expect the user of bairn to be Scottish or from the North of England, though this word for child was once in general use. Shakespeare used it in The Winter’s Tale, spelling it ‘barne’. The Oxford English Dictionary makes the interesting point that it stresses relationship rather than age. It is certainly used to an adult daughter in When the Boat Comes In, by James Mitchell: ‘Come on, me bairn.’ A Scottish girl says ‘Don’t greet so, my poor bairn,’ to a young woman in Iris Murdoch’s The Word Child, but is reproached by another character for using ‘affected Scotticisms’. ‘Bairn’ could, of course, be used to a male child as well as a female. It is used by a man to his son in The House with the Green Shutters, by George Douglas, where the characters are Scottish, but there is at least a suggestion in context that the term is meant to be insulting. The son, who has been expelled from university, is considered to be acting like a young child by the speaker. In Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre an old countrywoman uses ‘bairn’ to address a young woman who is not related to her.

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  • bairn — bairn; bairn·ie; bairn·ish; bairn·ly; bairn·time; bairn·team; …   English syllables

  • Bairn — (b[^a]rn), n. [Scot. bairn, AS. bearn, fr. beran to bear; akin to Icel., OS., & Goth. barn. See {Bear} to support.] A child. [Scot. & Prov. Eng.] [1913 Webster] Has he not well provided for the bairn? Beau. & Fl. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Bairn — est un personnage de l univers de Spawn. Alors qu il était encore jeune et brave, il promit à Neva, la jeune femme qu il aimait, qu il reviendrait de la guerre où il devait aller pour faire d elle sa femme. Lors de cette guerre, Bairn fut tué et… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • bairn — child (of any age), O.E. bearn child, son, descendant, probably related to beran ( bear (v.), carry, give birth; see BEAR (Cf. bear) (v.)). Originally not chiefly Scottish, but felt as such from c.1700. M.E. had bairn team brood of children …   Etymology dictionary

  • bairn — /bairn/; Scot. /bayrddn/, n. Scot. and North Eng. a child; son or daughter. [bef. 900; ME bern, barn, OE bearn; c. Goth, ON, OHG, OS, barn, OFris bern, MD baren, Albanian me barrë pregnant; akin to Lith bérnas boy, fellow, BEAR1] * * * …   Universalium

  • bairn — [beən US bern] n a baby or child used in Scotland …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • bairn — [ bern ] noun count SCOTTISH a baby or child …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • bairn — ► NOUN chiefly Scottish & N. English ▪ a child. ORIGIN Old English …   English terms dictionary

  • bairn — [bern] n. [ME bearn < OE < beran,BEAR1] Scot. a son or daughter; child …   English World dictionary

  • bairn — [[t]be͟ə(r)n[/t]] bairns N COUNT A bairn is a child. [SCOTTISH] He s a lovely bairn …   English dictionary

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