c.1300, from O.Fr. nièce (12c.), earlier niepce, from L. neptia, from neptis "granddaughter," in L.L. "niece," fem. of nepos "grandson, nephew" (see nephew
). Replaced O.E. nift, from P.Gmc. *neftiz, from the same PIE root. Until c.1600, it also could mean "a granddaughter"