Share this entry

kitten Line breaks: kit¦ten
Pronunciation: /ˈkɪt(ə)n/

Definition of kitten in English:


1A young cat.
Example sentences
  • Please think about adopting an adult cat rather than a kitten, because a kitten is always assured of a home!
  • In the corner a tabby cat is curled round a nest of her kittens.
  • I have nine cats, three of them kittens, and they all sleep with me at night.
1.1The young of several other animals, such as the rabbit and beaver.
Example sentences
  • The mesh that protects the reserve is three centimetres in diameter, which is small enough to keep even rabbit kittens out.
  • While the mother Cougar will look after her kittens for up to eighteen months, they are solitary animals and only come together to mate.
  • Usually lynx roam a mile or two a day, but when the females prepare to have kittens, they zero in on a small area as they choose a den, aiming to hole up for a while.
2A stout furry grey and white moth, the caterpillar of which resembles that of the puss moth.
  • Genus Furcula, family Notodontidae


[no object] Back to top  
(Of a cat or certain other animals) give birth.
Example sentences
  • However, many cats are contrary and may choose the most inconvenient places to kitten in, such as your bed.
  • Supply several large cardboard boxes well lined with newspaper for her to kitten in.


Late Middle English kitoun, ketoun, from an Anglo-Norman French variant of Old French chitoun, diminutive of chat 'cat'.


have kittens

British informal Be extremely nervous or upset.
Example sentences
  • No-one seems to know who is paying - the Metropolitan Police Authority is rightly having kittens at the possible budget consequences, as most of the police officers qualified for the job come from their force.
  • The PM's bodyguards must be having kittens.
  • I don't know how captain Rhona Martin managed it because I was having kittens just watching.

Words that rhyme with kitten

bitten, bittern, Britain, Briton, Britten, handwritten, hardbitten, Lytton, mitten, smitten, underwritten, witan, written

Definition of kitten in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day innocuous
Pronunciation: ɪˈnɒkjʊəs
not harmful or offensive