verb (used with object), nursed, nurs·ing.

verb (used without object), nursed, nurs·ing.

Origin of nurse

1350–1400; (noun) Middle English, variant of n(o)urice, norice < Old French < Late Latin nūtrīcia, noun use of feminine of Latin nūtrīcius nutritious; (v.) earlier nursh (reduced form of nourish), assimilated to the noun
Related formsnon·nurs·ing, adjectiveo·ver·nurse, verb (used with object), o·ver·nursed, o·ver·nurs·ing.un·der·nurse, nounwell-nursed, adjective

Synonyms for nurse

9. encourage, abet, help, aid, back. 14. rear, raise. Nurse, nourish, nurture may be used almost interchangeably to refer to bringing up the young. Nurse, however, suggests attendance and service; nourish emphasizes providing whatever is needful for development; and nurture suggests tenderness and solicitude in training mind and manners.

Antonyms for nurse

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

Examples from the Web for nurse

Contemporary Examples of nurse

Historical Examples of nurse

  • She and her nurse had been stolen from the Ionian coast, by Greek pirates.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • You were scarcely two years old, when you and your nurse suddenly disappeared.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • When Nurse had gone she would lie still in her cot, waiting.

  • My mother has been very ill; and would have no other nurse but me.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • As between child and parent or nurse it is not argued about because it is inevitable.

British Dictionary definitions for nurse



a person who tends the sick, injured, or infirm
short for nursemaid
a woman employed to breast-feed another woman's child; wet nurse
a worker in a colony of social insects that takes care of the larvae

verb (mainly tr)

(also intr) to tend (the sick)
(also intr) to feed (a baby) at the breast; suckle
to try to cure (an ailment)
to clasp carefully or fondlyshe nursed the crying child in her arms
(also intr) (of a baby) to suckle at the breast (of)
to look after (a child) as one's employment
to attend to carefully; foster, cherishhe nursed the magazine through its first year; having a very small majority he nursed the constituency diligently
to harbour; preserveto nurse a grudge
billiards to keep (the balls) together for a series of cannons

Word Origin for nurse

C16: from earlier norice, Old French nourice, from Late Latin nūtrīcia nurse, from Latin nūtrīcius nourishing, from nūtrīre to nourish
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 nurse

12c., nurrice "wet-nurse, foster-mother to a young child" (modern form from late 14c.), from Old French norrice "foster-mother, wet-nurse, nanny" (source of proper name Norris), from Late Latin *nutricia "nurse, governess, tutoress," noun use of fem. of Latin nutricius "that suckles, nourishes," from nutrix (genitive nutricis) "wet-nurse," from nutrire "to suckle" (see nourish). Meaning "person who takes care of sick" in English first recorded 1580s.


"dog fish, shark," late 15c., of unknown origin.


1530s, "to suckle (an infant);" 1520s in the passive sense, "to bring up" (a child); alteration of Middle English nurshen (13c.; see nourish), Sense of "take care of (a sick person)" is first recorded 1736. Related: Nursed; nursing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

nurse in Medicine




A person trained to care for the sick or disabled, especially one educated in the scientific basis of human response to health problems and trained to assist a physician.
A wet nurse.
An individual who cares for an infant or young child.


To serve as a nurse.
To provide or take nourishment from the breast; suckle.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.