childish, childlike
Both words tend now to be used to describe the behaviour of adolescents and adults rather than children. Childish has developed a generally depreciatory meaning ‘having the immature characteristics of a child’, whereas childlike has the favourable meaning ‘having the good qualities (such as innocence) associated with a child’. Examples:

• His childlike curiosity about life was held in check by childish timidity —M. Holroyd, 1974

• John observing his daughter, saw her now as more grown-up, less childish —Iris Murdoch, 1976

• He captures the artist's childlike earnestness and charm, but is not always so successful with the moments of stormy intensity —New Zealand Listener, 2004.

Modern English usage. 2014.

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  • Childlike — Child like (ch[imac]ld l[imac]k ), a. Resembling a child, or that which belongs to children; becoming a child; meek; submissive; dutiful. Childlike obedience. Hooker. [1913 Webster] Note: Childlike, as applied to persons grown up, is commonly in… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • childlike — childlike, childish agree in meaning having or showing the manner, spirit, or disposition of a child. Both are applicable to adolescents and to adults as well as to children. Childlike, however, usually suggests such qualities of childhood as… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • childlike — [chīld′līk΄] adj. 1. belonging or suitable to a child 2. like or characteristic of a child; innocent, trusting, etc. childlikeness n. SYN. CHILDLIKE and CHILDISH are both applied to persons of any age in referring to characteristics or qualities… …   English World dictionary

  • childlike — index ingenuous, juvenile, naive, puerility, unaffected (sincere) Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • childlike — 1580s, proper to a child, from CHILD (Cf. child) + LIKE (Cf. like). Meaning like a child in a good sense (distinguished from CHILDISH (Cf. childish)) is from 1725 …   Etymology dictionary

  • childlike — [adj] innocent, naive artless, childish, credulous, guileless, immature, ingenuous, natural, simple, spontaneous, trustful, trusting, unaffected, unfeigned; concept 404 Ant. complicated, untrusting …   New thesaurus

  • childlike — ► ADJECTIVE ▪ (of an adult) having the good qualities, such as innocence, associated with a child …   English terms dictionary

  • childlike — child|like [ˈtʃaıldlaık] adj having qualities that are typical of a child, especially positive qualities such as ↑innocence and eagerness childlike innocence/simplicity/directness ▪ You know I love you, she said with childlike simplicity.… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • childlike — [[t]tʃa͟ɪldlaɪk[/t]] ADJ GRADED You describe someone as childlike when they seem like a child in their character, appearance, or behaviour. His most enduring quality is his childlike innocence... Her behaviour was childlike and dependent …   English dictionary

  • childlike — adjective 1) his grandmother looked almost childlike Syn: youthful, young, young looking, girlish, boyish 2) geniuses tend to be rather childlike Syn: innocent, artless, guileless, unworldly, unsophisticated, naive …   Thesaurus of popular words

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