[nest] /nɛst/

a pocketlike, usually more or less circular structure of twigs, grass, mud, etc., formed by a bird, often high in a tree, as a place in which to lay and incubate its eggs and rear its young; any protected place used by a bird for these purposes.
a place used by insects, fishes, turtles, rabbits, etc., for depositing their eggs or young.
a number of birds, insects, animals, etc., inhabiting one such place.
a snug retreat or refuge; resting place; home.
an assemblage of things lying or set close together, as a series of boxes or trays, that fit within each other:
a nest of tables.
a place where something bad is fostered or flourishes:
a nest of vice; a robber’s nest.
the occupants or frequenters of such a place.
verb (used with object)
to settle or place (something) in or as if in a nest:
to nest dishes in straw.
to fit or place one within another:
to nest boxes for more compact storage.
verb (used without object)
to build or have a nest:
The swallows nested under the eaves.
to settle in or as if in a nest.
to fit together or within another or one another:
bowls that nest easily for storage.
to search for or collect nests:
to go nesting.
Computers. to place a routine inside another routine that is at a higher hierarchical level.
a place or structure in which birds, fishes, insects, reptiles, mice, etc, lay eggs or give birth to young
a number of animals of the same species and their young occupying a common habitat: an ants’ nest
a place fostering something undesirable: a nest of thievery
the people in such a place: a nest of thieves
a cosy or secluded place
a set of things, usually of graduated sizes, designed to fit together: a nest of tables
(military) a weapon emplacement: a machine-gun nest
(intransitive) to make or inhabit a nest
(intransitive) to hunt for birds’ nests
(transitive) to place in a nest

Old English nest “bird’s nest, snug retreat,” also “young bird, brood,” from Proto-Germanic *nistaz (cf. Middle Low German, Middle Dutch nest, German Nest), from PIE *nizdo- (cf. Sanskrit nidah “resting place, nest,” Latin nidus “nest,” Old Church Slavonic gnezdo, Old Irish net, Welsh nyth, Breton nez “nest”), probably from *ni “down” + *sed- (1) “to sit” (see sedentary).

Used since Middle English in reference to various accumulations of things (e.g. a nest of drawers, early 18c.). Nest egg “retirement savings” is from 1700, originally “a real or artificial egg left in a nest to induce the hen to go on laying there” (c.1600).

Old English nistan “to build nests,” from Proto-Germanic *nistijanan, from the source of nest (n.). The modern verb is perhaps a new formation in Middle English from the noun. Related: Nested; nesting.

Related Terms

feather one’s nest, love nest
non-surgical embryonic selective thinning


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