"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults


[nef-yoo or, esp. British, nev-yoo] /ˈnɛf yu or, esp. British, ˈnɛv yu/
a son of one's brother or sister.
a son of one's spouse's brother or sister.
an illegitimate son of a clergyman who has vowed celibacy (used as a euphemism).
Obsolete. a direct descendant, especially a grandson.
Obsolete. a remote male descendant, as a grandnephew or cousin.
Origin of nephew
1250-1300; Middle English neveu < Old French < Latin nepōtem, accusative of nepōs nephew, grandson; akin to Old English nefa, Dutch neef, German Neffe, Old Norse nefi; the pseudo-etymological spelling with ph has influenced pronunciation Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for nephew
  • My nephew tried to be indiscreet about dating a student in a similar situation and it turned out to have horrible consequences.
  • The train blasts out a shrill whistle which my nephew imitates intermittently for the next couple of hours with piercing accuracy.
  • My nephew was in a serious accident caused by a driver running a red light.
  • She said she became worried about her nephew recently after he disappeared from contact.
  • Step-mom a lot younger than dad with nieces and nephew in the picture that will probably get my inheritance.
  • But a nephew of the sickly leader is also a nominee.
  • Travis' nephew removes trees by day but tinkers with all sorts of gadgets by night.
  • Family photos can go to family only, and a picture of my nephew playing bike polo can go to both.
  • My nephew is a physicist and another is a materials engineer.
  • But a nephew of the sickly leader is also among the approved nominees.
British Dictionary definitions for nephew


/ˈnɛvjuː; ˈnɛf-/
a son of one's sister or brother
Word Origin
C13: from Old French neveu, from Latin nepōs; related to Old English nefa, Old High German nevo relative
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
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Word Origin and History for nephew

c.1300, from Old French neveu (Old North French nevu) "grandson, descendant," from Latin nepotem (nominative nepos) "sister's son, grandson, descendant," in post-Augustan Latin, "nephew," from PIE *nepot- "grandchild," and in a general sense, "male descendant other than son" (cf. Sanskrit napat "grandson, descendant;" Old Persian napat- "grandson;" Old Lithuanian nepuotis "grandson;" Dutch neef; German Neffe "nephew;" Old Irish nia, genitive niath "son of a sister," Welsh nei). Used in English in all the classical senses until meaning narrowed in 17c., and also as a euphemism for "the illegitimate son of an ecclesiastic" (1580s). The Old English cognate, nefa "nephew, stepson, grandson, second cousin" survived to 16c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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