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[nahy] /naɪ/
near in space, time, or relation:
The time draws nigh.
nearly; almost; (often followed by on or onto):
nigh onto twenty years.
adjective, nigher, nighest.
near; approaching:
Evening is nigh.
short or direct:
to take the nighest route.
(of an animal or vehicle) being on the left side:
to be astride the nigh horse.
Archaic. parsimonious; stingy.
verb (used with or without object)
Archaic. to approach.
Origin of nigh
before 900; Middle English nigh(e), neye, Old English nēah, nēh, cognate with Dutch na, German nahe, Old Norse nā-, Gothic nehw, nehwa; cf. near, next
Related forms
unnigh, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for nigh
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The major, on his way to Corney, told the father that the end was nigh.

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • He was soon so nigh, that there could be no possible mistake about the matter.

    Tanglewood Tales Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • It wuz, as nigh as I could calkerlate, about a hour and three-quarters long.

    Samantha Among the Brethren, Part 3. Josiah Allen's Wife (Marietta Holley)
  • "La victorie," said the other, drawing so nigh as to be heard in a loud whisper.

    The Last of the Mohicans James Fenimore Cooper
  • No, no; my knowledge for it, neither of them was nigh fainting, hereaway.

    The Last of the Mohicans James Fenimore Cooper
British Dictionary definitions for nigh


adjective, adverb, preposition
an archaic, poetic, or dialect word for near
Word Origin
Old English nēah, nēh; related to German nah, Old Frisian nei. Compare near, next
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for nigh

"near," Old English neah (West Saxon), neh (Anglian), common Germanic (cf. Old Saxon nah, Old Frisian nei, Middle Dutch, Dutch na, Old High German nah, German nah, Gothic nehwa), with no cognates outside Germanic. The Old English progression was neah - near - niehsta, for "nigh - near - next." But the comparative near and the superlative nehst (see next) gradually evolved into separate words not felt as related to nigh. New comparative and superlative forms nigher, nighest developed 14c. as phonetic changes obscured the original relationships. As an adjective from Middle English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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