Origin of niece

1250–1300; Middle English nece < Old French < Vulgar Latin *neptia, for Latin neptis granddaughter; replacing Middle English nifte, Old English nift niece (cognate with Old Frisian, Old High German nift, Dutch nicht, Old Norse nipt) < Germanic; akin to Lithuanian neptė̃, Sanskrit naptī; cf. nephew Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for nieces

Contemporary Examples of nieces

Historical Examples of nieces

  • "There's plenty of room for nephews and nieces," Mr. Withells said jocularly.

    Jan and Her Job

    L. Allen Harker

  • Her nieces were independent young women, and it was not often that she was able to help them.

    Howards End

    E. M. Forster

  • She passed on from it to the plan of campaign that her nieces should pursue in the future.

    Howards End

    E. M. Forster

  • She was going back to Swanage on the morrow, just as her nieces were wanting her most.

    Howards End

    E. M. Forster

  • Though we had a cargo of Bishop's nieces it wouldn't make him hold his hand.

    Captain Blood

    Rafael Sabatini

British Dictionary definitions for nieces


  1. a daughter of one's sister or brother

Word Origin for niece

C13: from Old French niece granddaughter, ultimately from Latin neptis granddaughter
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 nieces



c.1300, from Old French niece "niece, granddaughter" (12c., Modern French nièce), earlier niepce, from Latin neptia (also source of Portuguese neta, Spanish nieta), from neptis "granddaughter," in Late Latin "niece," fem. of nepos "grandson, nephew" (see nephew). Replaced Old English nift, from Proto-Germanic *neftiz, from the same PIE root (Old English also used broðordohter and nefene).

Until c.1600, it also commonly meant "a granddaughter" or any remote female descendant. Cf. cognate Spanish nieta, Old Lithuanian nepte, Sanskrit naptih "granddaughter;" Czech net, Old Irish necht, Welsh nith, German Nichte "niece."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper