Member of a non-human race, usually a child, believed to have been substituted, for an abducted human.
A common feature of European mythology in which the changeling is the child of fairies, elves or nature spirits, or of a witch or some other demonic creature. Equivalent beliefs exist in non-Western cultures. Such beliefs are strongly linked with witchcraft, the role of witches in the process, especially in the case of diabolic changelings as offspring of a witch and a demon. The belief resulted from, and is sustained by, the assumption that infants are peculiarly liable to attack by spirits and demons with whom they are sometimes associated in nature before name-giving and purificatory rites such as Christian baptism.