[ nest ]
See synonyms for: nestnestednesting on

  1. 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.

  2. a place used by insects, fishes, turtles, rabbits, etc., for depositing their eggs or young.

  1. a number of birds, insects, animals, etc., inhabiting one such place.

  2. a snug retreat or refuge; resting place; home.

  3. 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.

  4. a place where something bad is fostered or flourishes: a nest of vice; a robber's nest.

  5. the occupants or frequenters of such a place.

verb (used with object)
  1. to settle or place (something) in or as if in a nest: to nest dishes in straw.

  2. to fit or place one within another: to nest boxes for more compact storage.

verb (used without object)
  1. to build or have a nest: The swallows nested under the eaves.

  2. to settle in or as if in a nest.

  1. to fit together or within another or one another: bowls that nest easily for storage.

  2. to search for or collect nests: to go nesting.

  3. Computers. to place a routine inside another routine that is at a higher hierarchical level.

Origin of nest

First recorded before 900; Middle English, Old English (cognate with Dutch, German nest; akin to Latin nīdus “nest,” Old Irish net, Welsh nyth, Sanskrit nīḍa “lair”), ultimately from unattested Indo-European nizdo- “bird's nest,” equivalent to unattested ni “down” (see nether) + unattested zd-, variant of unattested sd-, ablaut variant of unattested sed-, verb base meaning “sit” (see sit1) + unattested -o- thematic vowel

Other words from nest

  • nest·a·ble, adjective
  • nester, noun
  • nestlike, adjective
  • nesty, adjective

Words Nearby nest Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use nest in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for nest


/ (nɛst) /

  1. a place or structure in which birds, fishes, insects, reptiles, mice, etc, lay eggs or give birth to young

  2. a number of animals of the same species and their young occupying a common habitat: an ants' nest

  1. a place fostering something undesirable: a nest of thievery

  2. the people in such a place: a nest of thieves

  3. a cosy or secluded place

  4. a set of things, usually of graduated sizes, designed to fit together: a nest of tables

  5. military a weapon emplacement: a machine-gun nest

  1. (intr) to make or inhabit a nest

  2. (intr) to hunt for birds' nests

  1. (tr) to place in a nest

Origin of nest

Old English; related to Latin nīdus (nest) and to beneath, sit

Derived forms of nest

  • nester, noun
  • nestlike, adjective

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with nest


see empty nest; feather one's nest; foul one's nest; stir up a hornet's nest.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.