infancy, minority, nonage denote the state or period of being under the age established by law for the attainment of one's full civil rights and independence of guardianship.
Infancy is seldom used in this denotation outside of legal documents and court reports; in these it is especially likely to be chosen when reference is made to the condition or status of the person who is not of age

the defendant pleaded infancy at the time the lease was made

Minority is widely used in general as well as in legal writing and is the word most often chosen when reference is made to the period or term of being under age

he inherited the title during his minority

Nonage is the equivalent of infancy and minority in their legal senses, but it is often distinguishable from them in its acquired connotations and by its greater susceptibility to literary and extended use. Nonage may suggest mere immaturity

an adolescent Parisienne . . . bored with the nonage of her contemporaries— Newsweeky

Not infrequently it suggests adolescence and its weaknesses and strengths and may be thought of as the opposite of dotage, or senilit

the brook we leaped so nimbly in our nonage is a mere ditch or too wide for our tonnage— Hilly er


a world which is still after all young and has plenty of time to make good the mistakes of its nonage—Times Lit. Sup.


New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

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  • infancy — in·fan·cy / in fən sē/ n pl cies 1: the legal status of an infant: minority 2: the affirmative defense of lacking legal capacity (as to make a contract or commit a crime) because of being too young and esp. because one s age is below an age set… …   Law dictionary

  • infancy — infancy, infant development Derived from the Latin word infans, meaning ‘unable to speak’, infancy is the earliest period in the human life span, usually taken to extend from birth through to the end of the first year. In demography, for example …   Dictionary of sociology

  • Infancy — In fan*cy, n. [L. infantia: cf. F. enfance. See {Infant}.] [1913 Webster] 1. The state or period of being an infant; the first part of life; early childhood. [1913 Webster] The babe yet lies in smiling infancy. Milton. [1913 Webster] Their love… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • infancy — (n.) late 14c., from Anglo Fr. enfaunce and directly from L. infantia early childhood, lit. inability to speak, from infantem (see INFANT (Cf. infant)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • infancy — ► NOUN 1) the state or period of early childhood or babyhood. 2) the early stage in the development or growth of something …   English terms dictionary

  • infancy — [in′fən sē] n. pl. infancies [LME < L infantia] 1. the state or period of being an infant; babyhood; very early childhood 2. the beginning or earliest stage of anything 3. Law the state or period of being a minor; period before the age of… …   English World dictionary

  • infancy — noun ADJECTIVE ▪ early ▪ The vaccination is given in early infancy. VERB + INFANCY ▪ survive, survive beyond ▪ Their first child did not survive infancy …   Collocations dictionary

  • infancy — /in feuhn see/, n., pl. infancies. 1. the state or period of being an infant; very early childhood, usually the period before being able to walk; babyhood. 2. the corresponding period in the existence of anything; very early stage: Space science… …   Universalium

  • infancy — [[t]ɪ̱nfənsi[/t]] 1) N UNCOUNT: usu poss N, prep N Infancy is the period of your life when you are a very young child. ...minute details of Deborah s infancy. ...the development of the mind from infancy onwards. 2) N UNCOUNT: usu in poss N If… …   English dictionary

  • infancy — n. first stage in one s infancy (the industry was still in its infancy) * * * [ ɪnfənsɪ] [ first stage ] in one s infancy (the industry was still in its infancy) …   Combinatory dictionary

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