\ˈnest \

Definition of nest 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a bed or receptacle prepared by an animal and especially a bird for its eggs and young

b : a place or specially modified structure serving as an abode of animals and especially of their immature stages an ants' nest

c : a receptacle resembling a bird's nest

2a : a place of rest, retreat, or lodging : home grown children who have left the nest

b : den, hangout

3 : the occupants or frequenters of a nest

4a : a group of similar things a nest of giant mountains— Helen MacInnes

b : hotbed sense 2 a nest of rebellion

5 : a group of objects made to fit close together or one within another

6 : an emplaced group of weapons


nested; nesting; nests

Definition of nest (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to build or occupy a nest : settle in or as if in a nest

2 : to fit compactly together or within one another : embed

transitive verb

1 : to form a nest for

2 : to pack compactly together

3 : to form a hierarchy, series, or sequence of with each member, element, or set contained in or containing the next nested subroutines

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Examples of nest in a Sentence


The bird built a nest out of small twigs. If you look closely, you can see a nest in that tree. They lived in a cozy little nest in the suburbs.


Robins nested in the tree. She studied the nesting habits of the turtle. The set of four chairs can nest into one stack. The smaller bowl is designed to nest inside the larger one.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Two beekeepers were called into remove a swarm of bees that had started building a nest in the engine of one of our aircrafts in Durban on Sunday. Michael Bartiromo, Fox News, "Bees swarm airplane engine at South African airport, delay multiple flights," 27 Sep. 2018 The nest was found on Friday, when workers arrived at the site to start setting up for the festival. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "A Nesting Bird Nearly Derailed a Canadian Music Festival," 28 June 2018 Other termites build mounds with complicated networks of tunnels that provide ventilation for underground nests. Kenneth Chang, The Seattle Times, "Metropolis of 200 million termite mounds was hidden in plain sight," 20 Nov. 2018 The French and British solution was ever more artillery—more guns, bigger calibers—as well as the first tanks, which could lurch forward to crush wire and machine gun nests. Geoffrey Wawro, WSJ, "The Reinvention of Warfare," 8 Nov. 2018 The tree-house-like stilted bungalows of Asilia’s Jabali Ridge—enclosed by teak louvered shutters and nest-like gum-wood-branch roofs—hide between boulders on a soaring granite outcrop, giving panoramic views of plains and otherworldly baobabs. Andrew Sessa, Condé Nast Traveler, "Ruaha: The African National Park You'll Have Almost All to Yourself," 11 Oct. 2018 All of this means that sometimes a hive or nest is obscured instead of out in the open. Korin Miller, SELF, "7 Tips to Prevent Bee and Wasp Stings When Exploring the Great Outdoors," 10 Oct. 2018 While bees that make large nests have no problems finding mates, there are many solitary species that rely on pheromones—small molecules that diffuse through the air and convey a specific message to their recipients. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Gangs of beetle larvae lure fathers of their next meal into sex trap," 12 Sep. 2018 Triatomines are nocturnal and tend to live in cracks and holes in rocks and buildings; underneath porches, concrete, rock, wood, brush piles, and tree bark; or in rodent nests or animal burrows. Bartie Scott, Teen Vogue, "Disease Spread by Kissing Bug Could Become More Common in the U.S.," 21 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The flightless bird, native to the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, nested on the ground and laid only one egg at a time. Amy Dockser Marcus, WSJ, "Meet the Scientists Bringing Extinct Species Back From the Dead," 9 Oct. 2018 Falcon families have nested on the roof of the library since 2004, library officials have said. Kyra Senese,, "Four baby falcons that hatched atop an Evanston library are named, banded," 19 June 2018 In 2015, the first spring after the nesting islands were built, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologists documented 181 nesting pairs of colonial waterbirds nesting on the two islands. Shannon Tompkins, Houston Chronicle, "Cow Trap Lake Project a success on multiple levels," 10 May 2018 After swimming for years in a giant loop from nesting grounds in North Carolina and Florida to North Africa, the turtles find their way back to nest on beaches within about 40 to 50 miles of where they were born. Karen Weintraub, New York Times, "Sea Turtles Use Magnetic Fields to Find Their Birthplace Beach," 13 Apr. 2018 Other sea turtle species nesting on Florida beaches aren't much different: Leatherbacks tend to be 80 percent to 85 percent female and green sea turtles from 90 percent to 95 percent female. Tyler Treadway, USA TODAY, "Almost all sea turtles born in Florida are female, and this researcher thinks she knows why," 13 Mar. 2018 Some breeding pairs, nesting on sheer cliffs away from intrusion, raise young birds year after year, Kelly said. Bruce Henderson, charlotteobserver, "Feisty and territorial falcons fly back to NC mountains. Climbers are getting credit.," 15 Feb. 2018 For the metal pearl drop earring, Frankel was inspired by Ruth Asawa’s wire sculptures and worked with an unusual metal mesh that is pulled taught to hold the pearl nested inside. Alexandra Macon, Vogue, "Bridal Designer Danielle Frankel’s New Jewelry Collection Is Art You Can Wear," 14 Nov. 2018 Looks aside, the wares incorporate some clever design gestures: The stainless-steel pieces all nest, four of the pieces share two lids, and the interiors are rivetless to prevent food from getting stuck. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Say hello to the world’s most Instagrammable Dutch oven," 8 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nest.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of nest


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


13th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for nest


Middle English, from Old English; akin to Old High German nest nest, Latin nidus

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Learn More about nest

Dictionary Entries near nest

Nessler tube

Ness, Loch





nest box

Statistics for nest

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for nest

The first known use of nest was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for nest



English Language Learners Definition of nest

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the place where a bird lays its eggs and takes care of its young

: a place where an animal or insect lives and usually lays eggs or takes care of its young

: a home where people live



English Language Learners Definition of nest (Entry 2 of 2)

: to build or live in a nest

: to fit inside each other


\ˈnest \

Kids Definition of nest

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a shelter made by an animal and especially a bird for its eggs and young

2 : a place where some animals live and usually lay eggs a termite's nest

3 : a cozy place : home

4 : those living in a nest a nest of robins


nested; nesting

Kids Definition of nest (Entry 2 of 2)

: to build or live in a nest nesting birds


\ˈnest \

Medical Definition of nest 

: an isolated collection or clump of cells in tissue of a different structure a nest of sarcomatous cells

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More from Merriam-Webster on nest

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with nest

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nest

Spanish Central: Translation of nest

Nglish: Translation of nest for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of nest for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about nest

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having a pattern of small flowers

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