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I'm writing a bullet list of traits for people to review so that they can self-select whether they fit into a certain group.

What I have right now looks like this:

  • Male
  • 35-39 years old
  • Highly-educated
  • In a committed relationship
  • Childless
  • Athletic, fit

But "Childless" feels problematic. It may have a provocative feel to it, and it focuses on the absence of children almost as if I (or society) expects men to have children. I'd rather describe a trait in positive terms.

Is there a word (or phrase of 4 words or less) that can serve as an adjective meaning simply (and without negative connotation or judgment) that he hasn't fathered any kids?


When I search thesauruses (e.g. this one), the suggestions are even worse than "childless". They include words such as: sterile, barren, infertile, unproductive, impotent, arid, bereaved. None of those are appropriate.

If I'm being overly cautious, and enough answerers say that "childless" meets my requirements, then that will be interesting for me to hear, too.

P.S. I've used the "single-word-requests" tag because I'm looking for suggestions of one word (or small phrase), and I've researched several thesauruses, and I've provided context.

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9 Answers 9

2

Try using

Without Children

It sounds better.

7

"No children" says the same thing, but is less clinical. It also sounds less permanent. There might -- or might not -- be an implied "yet" after "no children". I can't think of a natural-sounding qualifier that would do the same thing for "Childless".

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  • 2
    I really appreciate your answer! "No children yet" is actually what my partner recommended for me to write, too.
    – Ryan
    Feb 7, 2017 at 19:40
6

you could use "childfree" - it promotes an active decision not to have children.

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  • Interesting! Something to think about.
    – Ryan
    Dec 10, 2017 at 0:01
3

The commented suggestion of Not a parent is not negative, even though (perhaps counter-intuitively) it suggests an attribute you don't want.

It makes being a parent a negative attribute.

Male
35-39 years old
Highly-educated
In a committed relationship
Not a parent
Athletic, fit

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  • 1
    Not a parent is different from no offspring or "haven't fathered any children".
    – ColleenV
    Feb 7, 2017 at 18:13
  • 1
    Well, yes, but the same applies to "no children" or "no dependants".
    – Andrew Leach
    Feb 7, 2017 at 18:24
  • 2
    I like the way the question was asked in the moderator survey. Have kids, no kids but want some, no kids and happy that way (paraphrased). That is really the intent of the list in the quwstion I think.
    – ColleenV
    Feb 7, 2017 at 18:29
  • I love this answer! It seems obvious in retrospect (like most great answers do), but I hadn't even thought of this phrase.
    – Ryan
    Feb 7, 2017 at 19:41
2

Could you put no dependants?

dependant noun:

someone who depends on you for financial support, such as a child or family member who does not work: My pension will provide for my dependants.

from Cambridge dictionary

To my ears it's more neutral than "childless" or even "no children", but it does have the problem that although most dependants are children, not all are. As pointed out by DanBron, if someone has a non-working spouse (which would come under your "in a committed relationship" criterion), that spouse would likely be a dependant.

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  • 2
    Technically your spouse can be a dependent, though it's less likely without the need to stay at home and take care of children.
    – Dan Bron
    Feb 7, 2017 at 16:03
  • @DanBron Does your comment mean I haven't made that sufficiently clear in my answer? I tried to cover it with "less specific" and the dictionary quote that included "or family member".
    – AndyT
    Feb 7, 2017 at 16:07
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    It's not that it's less specific, but that it is in many cases actually incorrect, particularly given OP's broader description including "in a committed relationship".
    – Dan Bron
    Feb 7, 2017 at 16:12
  • BTW, I didn't downvote you, someone else did.
    – Dan Bron
    Feb 7, 2017 at 16:18
  • @DanBron - Good point. I've revised the answer with your example.
    – AndyT
    Feb 7, 2017 at 16:28
0

In genealogy, it is often said that someone without children is "without issue."

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    I think this answers this question very well, but you might want to include a reference. May 5, 2020 at 6:04
-1

unencumbered has a more general application than childless. It could included spouse, debt, criminal record etc. but I think the greatest emphasis would suggest children.

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  • 2
    An interesting suggestion, but I think it's a little too broad to say that it implies childlessness.
    – Hellion
    Sep 8, 2020 at 3:38
-1

The issue, as I see it, is there is no positive common language in English to describe someone who chooses to retain the freedoms of not reproducing that doesn't make the child the subject matter.

If you walk for transport you can choose to say you are a walker or that you walk, not that you are carless or car free. The term walker says what you ARE rather than what you ARE NOT ie. not having a car. The difference between not having children and not having a car is there is a much stronger expectation from society to have children and the language reflects that even though it's starting to becoming a redundant and outdated way of thinking.

This is a burden on women especially and to a lesser extent on men if they want to retain the freedoms from raising children.

So I think a new word or phrase is needed that doesn't make the non existent child the subject matter. There is a word already, but it's just so unknown.

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  • I appreciate your answer and am not sure why someone downvoted it. (I feel like that's especially rude considering that you're new to the site.) What do you mean by "There is a word already, but it's just so unknown."? Thanks.
    – Ryan
    Dec 2, 2020 at 1:02
-4

A perfect synonym of "childless" is "Ardurent"

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  • 1
    Thanks for your answer, please consider adding sources to support your answer.
    – JJJ
    Mar 21, 2018 at 9:52
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    A grand total of 58 hits on google... Not a word I've ever heard, and not one many other people have judging by the google results!
    – AndyT
    Mar 21, 2018 at 10:54
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    @AndyT Judging by the quality of those 58 references, I'd say they mainly provide strong arguments for not considering 'ardurent' acceptable (once one has filtered out the large proportion of obvious false positives). 'This page help you find right spelling of ardurent.' / 'and if there be any other comm ardurent, it is briefly compreherded in this saying, namely,' // and a couple of marvellous obvious false-positives 'they were both ardurent animal lovers' / 'Variable in ardurent of the K bessel function.' Mar 21, 2018 at 11:30
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    Avoid adding filler to pad an answer to the minimum length. It defeats the purpose of this site. Answers are expected to be lengthy. A good expert answer includes explanation, context, and supporting facts. This is what makes the answer useful – not only to the asker, but to future visitors to the page. Please consider expanding your answer.
    – MetaEd
    Mar 21, 2018 at 22:20

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