Terribly morbid but I am looking for a "-cide" word to describe murdering a child who is older than 1 year old (which is, as I understand it, outside the realm of infanticide) but unrelated to the murderer (ruling out filicide)?

I basically want to replace "child homicide" in the following sentence with this word:

You have been charged with multiple counts of child homicide.

Given that this word might not exist, I'd be interested in any alternative phrase that is commonly used by law enforcement to describe a child killer.

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    The obvious Latinate coinage would be libericide, but that seems to be extremely rare—most Google hits are pages about the word, not pages using the word. Fits the bill quite precisely if you don't mind being obscure to the point of incomprehensibility. (It's not a specific requirement that the children must be over the age of one and unrelated to the killer, is it? You're just looking for a generic -cide word for ‘child murder’, correct?) Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 18:30
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    Just in case you haven't seen it: Wikipedia's list of types of killings. Doesn't seem to have an entry for what you're asking for (even though pedocide from below looks spot on), otherwise I'd make an answer.
    – Patrick M
    Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 20:39
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    Until about a hundred years ago, infant in law meant anybody younger than 21!
    – Joshua
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 1:16

5 Answers 5


There is some precedent for use of the term p(a)edicide or p(a)edocide, combining p(a)edo- from ancient Greek "boy, child" (see Etymonline; compare pediatrics, pedophile) and the common murder suffix -cide1.

Some examples from the literature (all bolding added):

[N]o distinction between infanticide or pedicide (killing of children) is implied unless specified.
Sarah Blaffer Hrdy & Glenn Hausfater, Infanticide: Comparative and evolutionary perspectives, 1984

"Pedocide" has been used at times to denote the killing of any child, or the killing of a child between the age of one and sixteen years. Adelson defined post-infancy "pedicide" as the killing of a child who has emerged from infancy but not yet attained the age of fifteen years.
Larry Milner, Hardness of heart/hardness of life: The stain of human infanticide, 2000 (footnotes omitted)

Three types of filicide include (1) neonaticide, the murder of a child less than one day old; (2) infanticide, the murder of a child older than one day and less than one year old; (3) pedicide, murder of a child older than one year and less than age sixteen.
Applied criminal psychology: A guide to forensic behavioral sciences, Richard Koosis, ed., 2009

As you can tell, the definition of the term is not strictly defined in terms of age, but since this is also true for childhood I think you could shape it to suit your needs.

Although it is a rare word, it appears to be at least somewhat familiar within the scholarly fields that regularly discuss this crime, and is probably transparent enough etymologically to be understandable by most readers.

On the spelling issue: Etymonline suggests that the British spelling with A is preferable, to avoid confusion with the Latin prefix meaning "foot"; I think in context it would probably be clear enough without, if you are writing for a North American audience (of course, use paed if writing for an audience that uses British spelling). The choice of -o- or -i- is a little less clear-cut, but the spelling with -i- seems to be more common, per Google Ngram (though both are so rare that if you have a good reason to prefer the other spelling I think it would be fine).

So ultimately, your sentence could read something like:

You have been charged with multiple counts of paedicide.

1 Purists will note that -cide is ultimately from Latin, not Greek; however, this kind of mixing of source-languages in words coined by English-speakers is not-uncommon, particularly when the two roots are most familiar in contrasting forms, as here. Wikipedia has a list of such hybrid words, including such familiar coinages as automobile and genocide.

For a purely Latin term, thanks to @Patrick M for puericide, which has been listed as a synonym of infanticide. Pueri- is from the Latin cognate of p(a)edo- (compare puerile). This term appears to be much less common than pedicide and company, with fewer than 30 results for puericide in Google Books versus about 200 for pedicide plus more for other spellings. I suspect this may be because the p(a)ed- prefix is more familiar to English-speakers than puer-, making the full term more immediately understandable.

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    puericide would be a latin-only construction, I think – mentioned as a synonym here
    – Patrick M
    Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 20:42
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    @PatrickM That's a good word, too. Do you want to propose it as an answer? If not, do you mind if I add it to my footnote? I suspect it's not as common as pedicide (and probably not quite as obvious in meaning to non-Classicists).
    – 1006a
    Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 20:49
  • 1
    Be my guest! I don't have anything particularly novel to add to an answer.
    – Patrick M
    Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 20:51

From Wikipedia:

Child murder or child homicide is the homicide of an individual under the age of 18. In 2008, there were 1,494 child homicides in the United States. Of those killed, 1,035 were male and 452 were female.[1] Child manslaughter can result in an aggravated charge in some jurisdictions such as the State of Florida.[2]

Both infanticide and neonaticide would therefore be subsets of child homicide.

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    The OP asked for a word to replace "child homicide," so answering with "child homicide" is not very productive.
    – vpn
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 2:21
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    @vpn But Davo has a point. The OP thought the word they were looking for might not even exist, and they could do with a formal phrase that is in actual use. Davo here shows that child homicide fits the bill.
    – Mr Lister
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 13:41

You are possibly incorrect to rule out infanticide, which means:

  1. the act of killing an infant.
  2. the practice of killing newborn infants.
  3. a person who kills an infant.

where infant means:

  1. a child during the earliest period of its life, especially before he or she can walk; baby.
  2. Law. a person who is not of full age, especially one who has not reached the age of 18 years; a minor.

Given we are talking about a criminal term, the legal definition of "infant" is possibly most relevant.

Anecdotally I, as a native British English speaker, do not restrict the term "infant" to someone under 1 year of age. In the school I attended the "infant" classes were for 4 to 8 year olds.

I would therefore have no problem with "infanticide" being used up to 8 years old, and suggest it's probably fine up to around 11 years old. For older children than that it is (in my opinion) probably not a suitable term.

All that aside, your example phrase means that all that can be used is whatever is written down in the laws of the country. When a policeman charges someone with something, it is the legally prohibited act which is used. A policeman does not say:

You are charged with smashing windows, accessing people's houses and taking their jewellery

He does say:

You are charged with breaking and entering and theft

because "breaking and entering" and "theft" are the legally defined prohibited acts.

definitions from dictionary.com

  • 1
    British English might be more relaxed about the age of an "infant" due to the word's proximity to the french enfant, which does literally mean "child". In American English, infant almost exclusively means "newborn".
    – talrnu
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 13:39
  • @tarlnu - Interesting. I wondered if it was an AmE vs BrE divide, but I looked at Merriam-Webster where it uses the phrase "She is an infant teacher." On the basis that no one teaches newborns I assumed AmE usage was similar to BrE. Possibly a case of dictionaries not keeping up with usage though.
    – AndyT
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 13:58
  • Interesting... it could also be a regional difference, it's surprising sometimes how diverse the language can be within a single country. My evidence is entirely anecdotal, so I concede that I may simply be wrong.
    – talrnu
    Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 14:03

I looked up "toddlercide" in Google and got several hits where this term is used. For example, one article lamenting abortions "Slouching from Infantcide to 'Toddlercide'" https://personalliberty.com/slouching-infanticide-toddlercide/ stated that "an astonishing number of college students say they support post-birth abortion — or what we commonly call murder. These murders should take place up to ages 4 and 5, students say, because the children are not yet “self-aware.” The article did not cite a research source for the statement.

"Toddlerside" is also used by a person who is bothered by a screaming child on the other side of his apartment building: "Toddler-cide Imminent" http://groupthink.kinja.com/toddler-cide-imminent-1734422952

Most users of the term use it as one word--not hyphenated.

  • 1
    Thank you. Missed that one. I had noticed "aa" which was supposed to be "as" Commented Aug 8, 2017 at 11:12

I think the term "juvenile homicide" may be more appropriate as the term "child" is less frequently in the law. Think "being tried as a juvenile" or "juvenile detention".

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    Sorry, Charles (Hello, by the way) but this term seems to be used for 'murder by those below a certain age' rather than 'murder of those below a certain age'. Please add evidence showing the opposite, if you can find it. Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 18:50

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