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Difference Between Childish And Child-Like

By Gaurav
In common mistakes in English
Nov 21st, 2008

Childish is used negatively to criticize behavior that one does not want to see in adults. Childlike, on the other hand, is used either as a positive or neutral evaluation. Here’s a quote from somewhere that may help to explain:

“To advertising writers, connotation is a matter of life or death. There isn’t an ad agency in the world that would hire a copywriter who couldn’t tell the difference between “childlike” and “childish”—two words with the same denotation. The difference—connotatively—is huge. “Childlike” implies innocence and naturalness; childlike people are free of cynicism and corruption; in a world marred by vice and vanity and villainy, they’ve managed to remain guileless and trusting. They’re often thought of as “saints.” “Childish” people are something else: they’re arrested adolescents at best, and bigmouthed brats at worst; they make juvenile demands, they throw tantrums, and they know only one pronoun: “me.” Nobody has ever mistaken a childish man or woman for a saint. Two words: one denotation…vastly different connotations.”

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