Definition of nest in English:

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Pronunciation: /nɛst/


1A structure or place made or chosen by a bird for laying eggs and sheltering its young: two sparrows frantically building a nest [as modifier]: a nest site
More example sentences
  • First, the flight trajectory will obviously depend on the way in which a bird will enter its nest site.
  • The young leave the nest soon after they hatch and find their own food immediately.
  • Again the attraction is bird watching, especially pied shags feeding the young birds in their nests, great crested grebe and large numbers of paradise ducks.
roost, eyrie;
nest box, nesting box;
North American  birdhouse
1.1A place where an insect or other animal breeds or shelters: an ants' nest
More example sentences
  • Insect nests have guards who deter entry by both conspecific and allospecific intruders.
  • They use their long claws to expose the insect's nests.
  • Just as humans keep cows for their milk, certain ant species rear aphids and other insects in their nests and consume their secretions.
lair, den, drey, lodge, burrow, set, form
1.2Something in the form of a bowl or layer, used to hold, protect, or support something: potato nests filled with okra
More example sentences
  • One of my personal favourites is the pisto manchego, a smoky-tasting sautéed veggie dish served in a crisp nest of shredded potato.
  • Afterwards, fuelled by chocolate Santa heads, I would sit in a nest of crumpled, torn wrapping paper, impatient for the new year to move quickly.
  • Pull the baby runners back into the rows so they are not trodden on later, lifting the ripening berries up and carefully coddling each plant in a nest of straw.
1.3A person’s snug or secluded retreat: I’m off to my cosy nest
More example sentences
  • No sooner are you snug in your new nest than you find that units on your floor are being used as a hotel, with people coming and going.
  • His library became a nest, a retreat of perfect ideas perfectly poised.
  • Many of these hill stations began life as long ago as the 1820s, when early British settlers first sought nests in attractive locations.
hideaway, hiding place, hideout, retreat, shelter, refuge, snuggery, nook, den, haunt
informal hidey-hole
2A place filled with undesirable people, activities, or things: a nest of spies
More example sentences
  • He also discovers a nest of intrigue, decadence and a heathen willingness to murder people very casually if they get in your way.
  • Most charges focus on the Mafia's control of New York's waterfront, vast and beautiful, but for years a nest of corruption.
  • They know what it means to be tiny spots on the map, remembered only if embroiled in a terrible conflict that turns the whole region into a nest of unrest.
hotbed, den, breeding ground, cradle, seedbed, forcing house
3A set of similar objects of graduated sizes, made so that each smaller one fits into the next in size for storage: a nest of tables
More example sentences
  • In the burial chamber, a nest of four golden shrines, each sitting within the other, are removed, to reveal a stone sarcophagus.
  • They have been flying out of her shop, which is why she has extended the range of Ercol reissues to include a settle, a dining table and a nest of tables.
  • I sit on a sofa that is part of an old three-piece suite around a nest of tables.
cluster, set, group, assemblage


1 [no object] (Of a bird or other animal) use or build a nest: the owls often nest in barns (as adjective nesting) do not disturb nesting birds
More example sentences
  • The Dismal supports a hundred different bird species nesting within the refuge; another hundred are known to use the area.
  • This protected bird species had nested at the Baltic for many years and had to be moved to specially built nesting areas further down the river.
  • The birds of prey have nested at the site since 2001 and were the first to do so in the Lake District for 150 years.
2 [with object] Fit (an object or objects) inside a larger one: the town is nested inside a large crater on the flanks of a volcano
More example sentences
  • Then I decided to nest Bonobo inside, and they got even clearer.
  • I was explaining how you get more crockery in if you nest the little bowls inside the big bowls when I sensed that Mel was somehow not with me.
  • The disk is nested inside an elliptical ring of older, cooler, redder stars, which was seen in previous Hubble and ground-based observations.
2.1 [no object] (Of a set of objects) fit inside one another: Russian dolls that nest inside one another
More example sentences
  • This pursuit of knowledge becomes a set of dolls nested within other dolls, the desire to fit and the desire to contrast plays into a choral performance on the theme of instability of all categories of life and knowing.
  • In the 28 January print issue of PRL, researchers calculate that a group of concentric nanotubes nested inside an outer set of tubes can slide back and forth a billion times every second.
  • Still, only golf sets up its challenges in such a tidy row, a telescoping succession like that of Russian dolls nested one inside the other.
2.2(Especially in computing and linguistics) place (an object or element) in a lower position in a hierarchy: (as adjective nested) organisms classified in a series of nested sets
More example sentences
  • This can be accomplished by nesting elements under the parent element.
  • The enterprise edition of this software allows for companies to manage multiple, nested clusters of computing grids that are spread around an office complex or campus across multiple networks.
  • The RANDOM statement of this procedure was used because the haploid random factor was nested within the series factor.



noun (plural nestfuls)
Example sentences
  • To charm wavering Tories, the Lib Dems have grabbed a nestful of shiny rightwing policies.
  • See a nestful of newly hatched wood ducks being told to take a 15-foot jump to join their mother in the lake below.


Example sentences
  • The arrangements form repeating units called stem cell niches and provide nest-like microenvironments that house the adult stem cells and their immediate daughter cells.
  • By adjusting the rate of withdrawal, rinsing, and drying, they could make the molecules bend back onto themselves like needle eyes, nooses, or even nest-like coils.
  • The first visible sign of sexual differentiation is the formation of a nest-like structure made of so-called Hülle cells.


Old English, of Germanic origin; related to Latin nidus, from the Indo-European bases of nether (meaning 'down') and sit.

  • A nest was originally a ‘sitting-down place’. The Old English word comes from the same ancient roots as nether (Old English) and sit (Old English). The related word nestle (Old English) first meant ‘build a nest’, and did not take on its modern meaning until the 16th century. Niche (early 17th century), ‘a shallow recess’ or ‘a comfortable or suitable position’, is another related word.

Words that rhyme with nest

abreast, arrest, attest, beau geste, behest, bequest, best, blessed, blest, breast, Brest, Bucharest, Budapest, celeste, chest, contest, crest, digest, divest, guest, hest, infest, ingest, jest, lest, Midwest, molest, northwest, pest, prestressed, protest, quest, rest, self-addressed, self-confessed, self-possessed, southwest, suggest, test, Trieste, unaddressed, unexpressed, unimpressed, unpressed, unstressed, vest, west, wrest, zest

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