Learn English – “Childish”, “puerile” and “juvenile” which is more derogative


In order to scorn someone's behaviour, excuse etc., we can define it as childish or puerile, juvenile. In my register, they are graded down in that order. Is it right, or is there any difference in meaning or connotation?


"That was a rather childish/ puerile excuse."

Best Answer

Childish is primarily neutral, with a secondary meaning that is pejorative: "silly and immature". Puerile is pejorative per se, with no "respectable" sense of use. Juvenile, like childish is first and foremost a neutral term, with a mildly derogatory secondary meaning.

That puts them in the order: juvenile, childish and puerile in the degree of increasing derogatoriness.