Difference Between Childlike and Childish (With Table)

‘Childlike’ and ‘Childish’ are two terms that are used interchangeably many times with the wrong connotations. To make proper use of vocabulary one should understand the varied difference between the two. ‘Childlike’ is the term used to denote innocence and kind traits of an individual whereas ‘Childish’ is the term that depicts the immature and unruly behavior.

‘Childlike’ is often used in a positive sense that depicts qualities like sweetness, kindness, purity, etc whereas ‘Childish’ is used with negative connotations to depict foolish, immature, and annoying behavior.

Childlike vs Childish

The difference between childish and childlike is that of their usage and connotations. The former depicts the good qualities and positive attitude of any person whereas the latter is mostly used to portray the annoying qualities of any person in a negative sense.

One should note that usually ‘childlike’ behavior is accepted by everyone whereas ‘childish’ behavior is criticized by people.


Comparison Table Between Childlike and Childish (in Tabular Form)

Parameters of ComparisonChildishChildlike
Definition‘Childish’ is the behavior trait that is rendered annoying and immature. Such an individual who portrays this kind of behavior is considered irritating.‘Childlike’ refers to the behavior that is considered sweet, pure, kind, etc. such a person, who shows this kind of behavior is acceptable to people.
ConnotationsThis term is usually used with the negative connotations where it is referred to as demeaning people.This term is used with the positive connotations where it is used to reflect the innocence of individuals.
Multiplicity of meaningThe word ‘childish’ can be used to different meanings such as to disparage someone.The word ‘childlike’ can be used to depict meanings like to compliment someone or show gratitude.
SynonymsSome of the other words that can be used in place of ‘childish’ are immature, stupid, naive, foolish, etc.Other words that can replace ‘childish’ are innocent, gullible, cute, etc.
ExamplesWe can understand the term better with the help of the following examples:
· Enough of your childish pranks.
· Stop being childish and give me the book.
some of the examples to understand the term better are as follows:
· She always performs with childlike purity.
· She has a childlike face.


What is Childlike?

‘Childlike’ is the adjective used to depict the good that is synonymous with the qualities of an innocent child such as sweetness, purity, calmness, etc. the term is often used with positive connotations as a compliment or to denote the appropriate behavior of any individual.

The person portraying such traits is accepted by everyone and is often seen as honest and enthusiastic. It depicts the deemed behavior out of an individual that is to be kind, innocent, and sweet like a child. 

Some of the examples to demonstrate the usage of the term better are as follows:

  1. Her childlike innocence won her the crown.
  2. Adam showed the childlike enthusiasm for the event.
  3. Mary has the childlike sweetness in her speech.
  4. Jake couldn’t understand the mockery because of his childlike attitude.

The term is also used as an appreciation to praise someone’s virtues and behavior. ‘Childlike’ can, therefore, be used to refer to anyone innocent or whose appearance, behavior, etc are cute.

Some of the word replacements for the adjective ‘childlike’ are- innocent, sweet, gullible, pure, etc.


What is Childish?

‘Childish’ is the adjective that is used to depict the annoying or irritating traits of individuals. It is often used with negative connotations and such behavior is usually looked down upon by people. It should be noted that even if it has the word child, still it doesn’t denote the positive meaning.

The person showing the traits of childish behavior is considered unattractive and irritating. Usually, people with childish behavior have emotional escalations and are attention seekers. To get noticed they behave immaturely and take decisions abruptly.

Some of the examples to understand the term are:

  1. Mrs. Smith’s childish behavior and ignorance gave rise to the tragedy.
  2. Can you please stop being childish?
  3. Please behave appropriately, don’t be childish.
  4. His childish demeanor was the reason for his failure at the task.

The adjective can be also used interchangeably with other words such as- annoying, immature, unruly, mannerless, etc.  

Main Differences Between Childlike and Childish

  1. ‘Childish’ is the term that is used to refer to the behavior of a person, where a person is naïve and behaves abruptly whereas ‘childlike’ is the term that is used to refer to someone’s behavior, appearance or character which are innocent and appears like that of a child.
  2. The connotations are important to understand the usage of the terms. The term ‘childish’ is usually used to denote the negative aspects of someone’s behavior whereas the term ‘childlike’ denotes the positive qualities of an individual.
  3. While using the term ‘childish’ one refers to the immature and unruly attitude but on the contrary ‘childlike’ shows innocence and purity of a person.
  4. The person who portrays ‘childish’ activities is often looked down upon by people where the term ‘childlike’ comes as a compliment because such behavior is highly acceptable.
  5. Word replacements for ‘childish’ are unruly, stupid, immature, foolish, etc whereas word replacements for ‘childlike’ are innocent, pure, sweet, etc.



‘Childish’ and ‘Childlike’ are two adjectives that are often used interchangeably but to imply different meanings. The former term refers to the behavior of a person that is naïve and unruly whereas the latter term is used to depict behavior that is publicly accepted and is full of innocence.

The multiplicity of meanings depicts the usage of the terms better. ‘Childish’ is usually used in the negative context whereas ‘childlike’ is used in a positive sense or as a compliment for traits of any individual.

One should remember that the term ‘childish’ denotes the immature and stupid behavior that might be irritating whereas ‘childlike’ depicts the innocent and gullible traits of an individual.


  1. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ675227
  2. https://dc.swosu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1674&context=mythlore

1 thought on “Difference Between Childlike and Childish (With Table)”

  1. Egon Morogoue

    So I acted childlike when I was child and my wife acts childish when she asks me to quit drinking wine 🙂

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