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[nan-ee] /ˈnæn i/

a female given name.
noun (pl) -nies
a nurse or nursemaid for children

a child’s word for grandmother
verb nannies, nannying, nannied
(intransitive) to nurse or look after someone else’s children
(transitive) to be overprotective towards

“children’s nurse,” 1795, from widespread child’s word for “female adult other than mother” (cf. Greek nanna “aunt”). The word also is a nickname form of the fem. proper name Ann, which probably is the sense in nanny goat (1788, cf. billy goat). Nanny-house “brothel” is slang from c.1700. Nanny state, in reference to overintrusive government policies is attested by 1987, the term associated with British political leader Margaret Thatcher, who criticized the tendency.

“to be unduly protective,” 1954, from nanny (n.). Related: Nannied; nannying.

Related Terms

get someone’s goat


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  • Nanny suite

    noun an apartment or self-contained living area in a house, designed to be used by a caregiver Examples We bought a house with a nanny suite but use it as a recreation room.

  • Nanny-tax

    noun 1. the portion of Social Security and Medicare taxes paid by the employer of a nanny, gardener, or other household worker. noun a federal or state tax levied on those who employ live-in domestic help Examples The nanny tax pays for the workers’ Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment benefits. noun phrase The legal requirement, […]

  • Nano

    [nan-oh, ney-noh] /ˈnæn oʊ, ˈneɪ noʊ/ noun 1. Informal. . 1. a combining form with the meaning “very small, minute,” used in the formation of compound words (nanoplankton); in the names of units of measure it has the specific sense “one billionth” (10 -9): nanomole; nanosecond. combining form 1. denoting 10–9: nanosecond, n 2. indicating […]

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