In English, the word girl is used for children but also teenagers and young women (let's say 20-25).

In Spanish, I learned that the word niña is only used for kids, I might guess something like up to the age of ten.

How should I use the word knabino? Only for children, or for young women too?

Also, if I can't use knabino for young women, what should I call them?

(Same goes for knabo, but I don't think the English boy is as widely used as girl.)

  • Native speakers, please comment to let me know how correct my assumptions are. Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 7:28
  • 1
    In English, we can say girls to mean females but it depends on context. So be careful when searching TOR.
    – Lumo5
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 9:52

3 Answers 3


The answer to your question is highly dependent on culture. Even within a single language and single country people disagree about when to stop calling a young female a "girl" and whether than happens at the same age for young males.

When in doubt of what somebody means, ask.

A good guide would be to treat males and females the same. Here's how I break it down.

  • knabo/knabino - 0-18 years
  • junulo/junulino - 15-25 years
  • viro/virino - 18+

But don't be shocked or surprised to see people doing it differently.


Strictly speaking, the words refer to children who have not completed puberty.

I think, if you want to be very colloquial, it is probably less confusing to say ulo and ulino. If someone pointed out tiun knabon I would be looking round for a child.

However, the words knabo and knabino were used by Zamenhof with roughly the same freedom with which boy and girl are used in English.

The Plena Ilustrita Vortaro gives examples:

  • Knaboj! Nun venis la momento! Ni estas perditaj, aŭ ni devas batali kiel pafvunditaj aproj.

  • Boys! Now the moment has come! We must fight like wounded boars, or we are lost.

(From Act II of La Rabistoj. It is an aside, but Charles Moor is mentally addressing the Robbers.)

  • Sed vi ankaŭ tiam estis la plej bela knabino en Viborg, kaj tio signifas tre multe, ĉar tie mi ĉiam trovis la knabinojn la plej belaj.

  • But even then, you were the most beautiful girl in Viborg, and that's saying a lot, for I always considered the girls of Viborg to be the most beautiful.

(From Andersen's story Historio el la dunoj. The speaker is an old man addressing his wife.)


About the age of 12 or less.

Infano: Homido kontraste al plenkreskinta homo, ĝis la 12a jaro proksimume. http://www.reta-vortaro.de/revo/art/infan.html#infan.0o

Knabo: Virseksa infano - http://www.reta-vortaro.de/revo/art/knab.html#knab.0o

Knabino: Inseksa infano - http://www.reta-vortaro.de/revo/art/knab.html#knab.0o

To describe a woman or a man it would be Virino and Viro

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