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[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
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "After all, nephew, it may turn out that you have the longest head amongst us," he said.

    The Spanish Brothers Deborah Alcock
  • It was Chrysippus, prince of Clazomenæ, the nephew of Anaxagoras.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • This nephew robbed him some time ago, and was sentenced to penal servitude.

    Dead Man's Love Tom Gallon
  • On his death-bed he charged his nephew to protect and cherish me as a sister.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • He was succeeded by his nephew, the great Justinian, who for thirty-eight years directed the fortunes of the Roman Empire.

    The World's Greatest Books, Vol XI. Edited by Arthur Mee and J.A. Hammerton
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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