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"agile, light-footed," c.1300, nemel, from Old English næmel "quick to grasp" (attested but once), related to niman "to take," from Proto-Germanic *nemanan (cf. Old Saxon, Old Dutch, Gothic niman, Old Norse nema, Old Frisian nima, German nehmen "to take"), from PIE root *nem- "to divide, distribute, allot," also "to take" (cf. Greek nemein "to deal out," nemesis "just indignation," Latin numerus "number," Lithuanian nuoma "rent, interest," Middle Irish nos "custom, usage"). With excrescent -b- from c.1500 (cf. limb (n.1)). Related: Nimbleness. In 17c., English had nimblechaps "talkative fellow."