I have just seen this post on facebook.

It says "This two-headed turtle was born on June 18th..." so I wondered if the word "born" can be used with animals that lay eggs. Is there another word for that?

6 Answers 6


I don’t have any particular reaction against using ‘born’ for animals like turtles. It describes at what time their lifespan began, roughly.

The specific term that relates to the ‘birth’ of coming out of an egg is hatching, but that does specifically describe the moment when the eggshell cracks and the young emerges from within the egg, rather than more generically the time when you start to count the animal’s age (even though it’s the same moment, of course).

If you are talking about an old turtle, for example, it sounds more natural to me to say that it was born in 1832 than to say that it hatched in 1832.

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    +1. Incidentally, when we wish to distinguish this kind of birth from egg-laying, we speak of live birth (or use the technical term vivipary).
    – ruakh
    Jul 22, 2013 at 0:00
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    Or "decanted"! No, not really ... see Brave New World for use of "viviparous" in a literary context huxley.net/bnw/two.html Jul 22, 2013 at 9:41
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    And of course, if we wish to distinguish egg-laying, we use either ovipary (if the egg is hatched outside the mother’s body), or the positively stellar word ovovivipary (if the egg is hatched inside the mother’s body). Jul 22, 2013 at 9:53

To be born means “to be brought forth as offspring, to come into the world”. It can be used for creatures hatched from egg — or you could just use hatch.

However, you can find many references to hatched things being born. For example, from The New York Times:

This month’s army of periodical cicadas was born in 1996. Their mothers laid their eggs in the branches of trees, where they developed for a. . . .

Or from CBS News:

First bald eagle born in Pittsburgh in over 200 years

You can find many other examples of things being born that hatched from eggs.


BIRTH - It is common for all the creatures in the world. When a life comes out from the Natures protection - (Human from womb, birds from egg, fish - actually from egg....etc), counted as a birth. So its completely valid for using BORN in your example.


Absolutely. One can be BORN from an egg. Perfectly valid English usage, although as previously mentioned there is a better verb to describe the action here: HATCH.

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    This particular wording reminds me that it is customary to say that a basilisk is born from a chicken’s egg (hatched by a toad). Jul 21, 2013 at 20:18

Definition of born (Entry 1 of 2)

1a: brought forth by or as if by birth

Definition of birth (Entry 1 of 3)

1a: the emergence of a new individual from the body of its parent

b: the act or process of bringing forth young from the womb

So no it's not actually proper to use born for hatch, born means emerging alive from a living being.


Born means live ( viviparous) leaving body of mammal, marsupials, mother. Hatched means leaving of egg as in reptiles, birds, fish insects, arachnids,.....

Not sure about exceptions like greenfly!

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