[nest-ling, nes-ling]


a young bird not yet old enough to leave the nest.
a young child or infant.

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.

to lie close and snug, like a bird in a nest; snuggle or cuddle.
to lie or be located in a sheltered spot; be naturally or pleasantly situated: a cottage nestling in a pine grove.
  1. to make or have a nest.
  2. to make one's home; settle in a home.

verb (used with object), nes·tled, nes·tling.

to settle or ensconce snugly: He nestled himself into the hay for a short nap.
to put or press confidingly or affectionately: She nestled her head on his shoulder.
to provide with or settle in a nest, as a bird.

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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for nestling

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

Examples from the Web for nestling

Contemporary Examples of nestling

Historical Examples of nestling

British Dictionary definitions for nestling



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

Word Origin for nestling

C14: from nest + -ling 1



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

Word Origin for nestle

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.



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper