I don't know about you, but to me, the term "Designer Baby" sounds wrong. Designer Babies are:

The colloquial term "designer baby" refers to a baby whose genetic makeup has been artificially selected by genetic engineering combined with in vitro fertilisation to ensure the presence or absence of particular genes or characteristics. The term is derived by comparison with "designer clothing". It implies the ultimate commodification of children and is therefore usually used pejoratively to signal opposition to such use of reprogenetics

"Designer clothing" is understandable, because "designer clothing" is clothing that bears the logo of a recognizable fashion designer. That means, "clothing that has a designer's mark on it, hence the term "designer clothing", the clothing of a designer."

But "designer baby" doesn't make sense to me. "Designer baby" isn't the baby of a designer. It's just a baby that's been designed artificially.

Do you get me? So, shouldn't it be "Designed Baby"?

  • 3
    The quote explains it well, it doesn't mean there is a designer, it is an intentionally loaded term that is meant to draw comparison with designer clothing.
    – z7sg Ѫ
    Aug 9, 2011 at 12:43
  • 2
    Adding on Z7sg's it is supposed to seem wrong. Designer cloths are typically worn primarily by wealthy people. The term here infers that wealthy people will get the exact baby they want perfectly designed for them, and the rest of us will have to suffer with plain old regular "Off the rack" babies. In this way it i meant to evoke the passions of both the right ("Playing god") and the left ("Class warfare").
    – Chad
    Aug 9, 2011 at 14:28

2 Answers 2


Designer here is being used as an adjective.

You have designer drugs, designer pets and so on all of which are used in the same way. And here's a definition from the Merriam-Webster

: modified artificially (as by genetic engineering) to fulfill individual specifications or meet a need <designer foods> <designer estrogens>


It's an idiom. Idioms are, well, idiomatic, for want of a better word (and to state the blinking obvious). But I know you knew that already.

I don't think "Designed Baby" is as easy to say as "Designer Baby" - the latter trips off the tongue more readily.

And perhaps there are deliberate implications behind it, that come from the analogy with designer clothes: of vanity, of the privileges of wealth, of ostentatious consumption.

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