This study was concerned with the question of how linguistic input of the social environment might affect children's acquisition of word meaning. It was argued that the conceptual impact of linguistic input could be demonstrated where the conceptual components underlying word meaning are not primarily based on perceptual categories, as in the case of kinship terms. In two experiments, 84 German children living in families, and 84 orphans, aged from 6 to 10, were compared in their ability to use natural or artificial kinship names as terms for kinship relations. The results suggested that a mere familiarity interpretation for the actual difference in the ability to use kinship terms could be ruled out. Orphans showed a specific conceptual deficit in handling relational components even when the familiarity of the terms was equated for the two groups. Two issues these results raise are whether the orphans' deficit will disappear with increasing age, and to what extent the correct use of kinship terms is due to differences in general intelligence.