"Least child"

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Mon Aug 3 23:20:46 UTC 2009

The phrase had an 18th-century flavor to me, so I googled books
before 1799.  Merely 5 hits (plus one with no preview available), of
which just one is suggestive:

The Child's companion, 1799, page 50 (full view available).

"The words were so simple, that the least child knew what was meant."

Apparently my taste is a little off, however.  Between 1800 and 1849
inclusive, there are 395 hits.  The first 10 (of which only one
appears to be a duplicate) all have the desired sense -- although
sometimes not merely youngest in a family but in a town or in God's universe.


At 8/3/2009 04:00 PM, Bill Palmer wrote:
>In conversation today, speaker from western NC, referred to
>his  daughter as his "least child", meaning nothing more than the
>one who was younger.
>Has anyone ever heard "least" to mean "younger" or "youngest"?
>I did not get any relevant Google hits on "least child".
>Bill Palmer
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list