[ kresh, kreysh; French kresh ]
/ krɛʃ, kreɪʃ; French krɛʃ /

noun, plural crèch·es [kresh-iz, krey-shiz; French kresh]. /ˈkrɛʃ ɪz, ˈkreɪ ʃɪz; French krɛʃ/.

a small or large modeled representation or tableau of Mary, Joseph, and others around the crib of Jesus in the stable at Bethlehem, as is displayed in homes or erected for exhibition in a community at Christmas season.
a home for foundlings.
British. a day-care center; day nursery.
Animal Behavior. an assemblage of dependent young that are cared for communally.



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Origin of crèche

1785–95; <French, Old French <Frankish *kripjacrib Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020


What does crèche mean?

A crèche is a nativity scene—a model of a scene depicting the birth of Jesus.

Crèches are often displayed in or outside of homes or churches during Advent, the season preceding Christmas, which celebrates the birth of Jesus and is among the most important Christian holidays. A crèche is also commonly called a Nativity scene or simply a Nativity.

Crèche is also sometimes used to refer to a childcare facility like a day care. This sense of the word is primarily used in the United Kingdom.

It is sometimes seen without the accent mark, which comes from its French spelling.

Example: My children’s favorite part of the crèche is the goats and other animals.

Where does crèche come from?

The first records of the crèche in English come from the late 1700s. It is borrowed directly from French, in which it means “crib” or “manger.”

The earliest uses of crèche in English referred to a crib, often in a direct reference to the story of Jesus’s birth. According to the Biblical account of his birth, Jesus was born in a stable (a small barn for feeding and housing animals), and a manger (a feeding trough) was used as his cradle.

People have displayed crèches during Christmastime for hundreds of years. Crèches can be small (like the kind that can fit under the Christmas tree or on a shelf) or large (like the kind that are displayed on the front lawn of a house or outside of a church). Most include figures representing the infant Jesus in a crib, Mary, Joseph, and shepherds and animals. Many crèches also feature the Magi, or “three wise men” (though traditions differ about whether they should be included).

The word crèche has been used to refer to childcare centers since the mid-1800s. The term was originally used in France and spread to the U.K. In the U.S, equivalent terms are daycare and preschool.

In a scientific context, the word crèche refers to a group of young animals, especially birds, that have been left without parental care. In most cases, this turns into a comedy movie in which the main character eventually adopts them after learning to love their zany antics.

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What are some synonyms for crèche?

What are some words that often get used in discussing crèche?


How is crèche used in real life?

In the U.S., crèches are more popularly called nativity scenes. When crèche refers to a day care, it is used in much the same way, such as in phrases like crèche fees. 



Try using crèche!

Is crèche used correctly in the following sentence?

When we set up the crèche, we always wait until Christmas Eve to place the baby Jesus in his manger.

Example sentences from the Web for crèche

British Dictionary definitions for crèche

/ (krɛʃ, kreɪʃ, French krɛʃ) /


mainly British
  1. a day nursery for very young children
  2. a supervised play area provided for young children for short periods
a tableau of Christ's Nativity
a foundling home or hospital

Word Origin for crèche

C19: from Old French: manger, crib, ultimately of Germanic origin; compare Old High German kripja crib
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