I am looking for a generic term for someone who looks after children i.e. a term that would encompass:

  • nanny
  • baby-sitter
  • au-pair
  • etc.

Can someone please advise?

  • 1
    All such people are in loco parentis Nov 2, 2014 at 21:54
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers - there are good words for this in English; why resort to Latin? Nov 2, 2014 at 22:23
  • 1
    @medica: You'll have to take that up with all the millions of people who use the Latin term - I'm just pointing out that it is used. Only as a comment, not an answer, because it's really an adverbial phrase rather than a noun as requested. But at least it encompasses every such person (other than the actual parents, obviously). Off-hand I can't think of any other term (adverb or noun) that encompasses all people (both paid and unpaid) acting in loco parentis, but feel free to enlighten me if you know different. Nov 2, 2014 at 22:48
  • 2
    Should the term also include parents, legal guardians, etc? Nov 2, 2014 at 23:55
  • 4
    @medica - Well, many parents are loco parentis after too long with the kids.
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 3, 2014 at 4:07

4 Answers 4


Childcare-worker is a general term: (from www.collinsdictionary.com)

  • someone who takes care of children in return for money

  • a person who attend to children at schools, businesses, and institutions, and performs variety of tasks such as dressing, feeding, bathing, and overseeing play.

  • Childcare professional is a slight variant on this
    – noonand
    Nov 3, 2014 at 16:19

In UK the term 'childminder' is commonly used and understood, often in a paid scenario but not necessarily so.

  • Agreed. In UK English, this is the best definition. Don't know if it is as widely used in the US though
    – bmgh1985
    Nov 3, 2014 at 9:38
  • 1
    Not used at all in the US. 'Mind' as a verb in general is almost completely deprecated outside of phrases such as "I don't mind" or "Do you mind if..." Nov 3, 2014 at 12:49
  • Sadly for the term, LessPop_MoreFixx is on the money.
    – ahnbizcad
    Mar 18, 2015 at 18:58

Caretaker and caregiver certainly encompass this meaning, although they can potentially be used in other contexts as well.

  • This is what came to my mind as well. The over-abstraction is not ideal though, IMO. Appropriate levels of abstraction are key to good words... what's the appropriate term for what I mean by "good" here? I feel "semantic" is not quite right... New question!
    – ahnbizcad
    Mar 18, 2015 at 19:00

Your question is very broad. Depending on whether the person is being paid or not, how long they look after the children, how old the children are, how regularly they look after them will all imply different terms. If you need a very generic term then I'd suggest carer or minder.

  • I would infer that those factors should be regarded as irrelevant, and that the term should be generic enough to encompass the sub-species of the forks you mentioned.
    – ahnbizcad
    Mar 18, 2015 at 19:01

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