• synonyms


[nest-ling, nes-ling]
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  1. a young bird not yet old enough to leave the nest.
  2. a young child or infant.
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Origin of nestling

Middle English word dating back to 1350–1400; see origin at nest, -ling1


[nes-uh l]
verb (used without object), nes·tled, nes·tling.
  1. to lie close and snug, like a bird in a nest; snuggle or cuddle.
  2. to lie or be located in a sheltered spot; be naturally or pleasantly situated: a cottage nestling in a pine grove.
  3. Archaic.
    1. to make or have a nest.
    2. to make one's home; settle in a home.
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verb (used with object), nes·tled, nes·tling.
  1. to settle or ensconce snugly: He nestled himself into the hay for a short nap.
  2. to put or press confidingly or affectionately: She nestled her head on his shoulder.
  3. to provide with or settle in a nest, as a bird.
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Origin of nestle

before 1000; Middle English nestlen, Old English nestlian, cognate with Dutch nestelen. See nest, -le
Related formsnes·tler, nounun·nes·tled, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

nuzzle, huddle, snug, bundle, cuddle, snuggle, burrow

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British Dictionary definitions for nestling


    1. a young bird not yet fledged
    2. (as modifier)a nestling thrush
  1. any young person or animal
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Word Origin

C14: from nest + -ling 1


  1. (intr; often foll by up or down) to snuggle, settle, or cuddle closely
  2. (intr) to be in a sheltered or protected position; lie snugly
  3. (tr) to shelter or place snugly or partly concealed, as in a nest
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Derived Formsnestler, noun

Word Origin

Old English nestlian. See nest
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

Word Origin and History for nestling


late 14c., "bird too young to leave the nest," from nest (n.) + diminutive suffix -ling.

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Old English nestlian "build a nest," from nest (see nest (n.)). Figurative sense of "settle (oneself) comfortably, snuggle" is first recorded 1540s. Related: Nestled; nestling.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper