Origin of nigh

before 900; Middle English nigh(e), neye, Old English nēah, nēh, cognate with Dutch na, German nahe, Old Norse nā-, Gothic nehw, nehwa; cf. near, next
Related formsun·nigh, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for nigh

Contemporary Examples of nigh

Historical Examples of nigh

  • The major, on his way to Corney, told the father that the end was nigh.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • He was soon so nigh, that there could be no possible mistake about the matter.

    Tanglewood Tales

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • It wuz, as nigh as I could calkerlate, about a hour and three-quarters long.

    Samantha Among the Brethren, Part 3.

    Josiah Allen's Wife (Marietta Holley)

  • "La victorie," said the other, drawing so nigh as to be heard in a loud whisper.

    The Last of the Mohicans

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • No, no; my knowledge for it, neither of them was nigh fainting, hereaway.

    The Last of the Mohicans

    James Fenimore Cooper

British Dictionary definitions for nigh


adjective, adverb, preposition

an archaic, poetic, or dialect word for near

Word Origin for nigh

Old English nēah, nēh; related to German nah, Old Frisian nei. Compare near, next
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 nigh

"near," Old English neah (West Saxon), neh (Anglian), common Germanic (cf. Old Saxon nah, Old Frisian nei, Middle Dutch, Dutch na, Old High German nah, German nah, Gothic nehwa), with no cognates outside Germanic. The Old English progression was neah - near - niehsta, for "nigh - near - next." But the comparative near and the superlative nehst (see next) gradually evolved into separate words not felt as related to nigh. New comparative and superlative forms nigher, nighest developed 14c. as phonetic changes obscured the original relationships. As an adjective from Middle English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper