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[nurs] /nɜrs/
a person formally educated and trained in the care of the sick or infirm.
a woman who has the general care of a child or children; dry nurse.
a woman employed to suckle an infant; wet nurse.
any fostering agency or influence.
Entomology. a worker that attends the young in a colony of social insects.
Billiards. the act of maintaining the position of billiard balls in preparation for a carom.
verb (used with object), nursed, nursing.
to tend or minister to in sickness, infirmity, etc.
to try to cure (an ailment) by taking care of oneself:
to nurse a cold.
to look after carefully so as to promote growth, development, etc.; foster; cherish:
to nurse one's meager talents.
to treat or handle with adroit care in order to further one's own interests:
to nurse one's nest egg.
to use, consume, or dispense very slowly or carefully:
He nursed the one drink all evening.
to keep steadily in mind or memory:
He nursed a grudge against me all the rest of his life.
to suckle (an infant).
to feed and tend in infancy.
to bring up, train, or nurture.
to clasp or handle carefully or fondly:
to nurse a plate of food on one's lap.
Billiards. to maintain the position of (billiard balls) for a series of caroms.
verb (used without object), nursed, nursing.
to suckle a child, especially one's own.
(of a child) to suckle:
The child did not nurse after he was three months old.
to act as nurse; tend the sick or infirm.
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 forms
nonnursing, adjective
overnurse, verb (used with object), overnursed, overnursing.
undernurse, noun
well-nursed, adjective
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.
7, 9. neglect. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for nurse
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "He ought not to eat roasted meat," said nurse Branscome slowly.

    Brother Copas Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch
  • She and her nurse had been stolen from the Ionian coast, by Greek pirates.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • When Parley-voo saw the nurse, he ran into a corner, and hid his face.

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

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • nurse says she is a naughty, cross woman, and I don't love her.

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

nurse (nûrs)

  1. 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.

  2. A wet nurse.

  3. An individual who cares for an infant or young child.

v. nursed, nurs·ing, nurs·es
  1. To serve as a nurse.

  2. 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.
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Slang definitions & phrases for nurse



  1. To consume one's drink slowly: He ordered a highball and nursed it all evening (1942+)
  2. To handle or drive slowly and carefully: I nursed it away from the curb and went out Main Street (1980s+)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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