Word Origin & History
"near," O.E. neah (W.Saxon), neh (Anglian), common Gmc. (cf. O.Fris. nei, M.Du. na, O.H.G. nah, Ger. nah, Goth. nehwa), with no cognates outside Gmc. The O.E. progression was neah - near - niehsta, for "nigh - near - next." But the comp. near and the superl. nehst gradually evolved into separate words
not felt as related to nigh. New comp. and superl. forms, nigher, nighest, developed 1300s as phonetic changes obscured the original relationships.