How do you pronounce niche? Is it \NEESH\ or \NICH\?
There is a debate about how you are supposed to pronounce niche. There are two common pronunciation variants, both of which are currently considered correct: \NEESH\ (rhymes with sheesh) and \NICH\ (rhymes with pitch). \NICH\ is the more common one and the older of the two pronunciations. It is the only pronunciation given for the word in all English dictionaries until the 20th century, when \NEESH\ was first listed as a pronunciation variant in Daniel Jones's English Pronouncing Dictionary (1917). \NEESH\ wasn’t listed as a pronunciation in our dictionaries until our 1961 Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, and it wasn’t entered into our smaller Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary until 1993. Even then, it was marked in the Collegiate as a pronunciation that was in educated use but not considered acceptable until 2003.
All this is to say that the historical pronunciation has been \NICH\, and that \NEESH\ is a relative newcomer that came about likely under influence from French pronunciation conventions. At this point in time in the U.S., \NICH\ is still the more common pronunciation, but \NEESH\ is gaining ground. Our evidence suggests that in British English, \NEESH\ is now the more common pronunciation.
NounTo succeed in this new world, you have to sell yourself. You go to a brand-name college, not to imbibe the wisdom of its professors, but to make impressions and connections. You pick a niche that can bring attention to yourself and then develop your personal public relations efforts to let the world know who you are.—Alan Wolfe, New York Times Book Review, 7 Jan. 2001The ivory-billed woodpecker, wan ghost of southern woodlands, may actually be flying forth from its niche in extinction.—Frank Graham, Jr., Audubon, May/June 2000Creatures in the genus Rickettsia occupy a niche between bacteria and viruses. They carry much of their own cellular equipment and are vulnerable to antibiotics, but like viruses they need to invade living cells in order to grow.—Wayne Biddle, A Field Guide to Germs, 1995No, a safe and humble backbencher's niche in the Senate was the inheritance of a Julius these days.—Colleen McCullough, The First Man in Rome, 1990A dozen or so fey young monks in saffron robes and shaven heads wafted from quiet niche to niche begging alms and looking very flesh-bound to my jaded eyes.—Arthur Miller, Timebends, 1987
I found a niche for myself after high school.
She finally found her niche as a teacher.
the species that fill an environmental nicheVerbThe most moving of all the museums in Russia, right now, is also the smallest and the most unlikely. Niched with no fuss whatever in what was a communal apartment high in the annex of the former Sheremetyev Palace in St. Petersburg, it is devoted to a great Russian poet, Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966).—John Russell, New York Times Book Review, 1 Jan. 1995See More
Recent Examples on the Web
This technology is not just a mirror reflecting consumer experiences but a compass that points toward uncharted market territories and uncovering profitable niches.—Joseph Rutakangwa, Forbes, 30 Nov. 2023 Restarting from scratch, however, many Missouri wineries settled into a niche of producing cheap, sweet wines, as most Americans who could afford to bought European wine, which was increasingly easy and affordable to import by steamship.—Alex Mayyasi, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 Nov. 2023 Not least in its dramatic centerpiece: a 20-meter pool featuring eight columns of arabesque marble, with sparkling niches of black-and-gold housing both relaxation areas and 19th-century replicas of classical statues.—Liam Hess, Vogue, 28 Nov. 2023 That’s a niche too small and too cool for my unhip existence.—Lauren Joseph, Bon Appétit, 22 Nov. 2023 Seasonal wardrobe staples aren’t a particularly niche thing to own, but anyone preparing for a trip will tell you that these select sweaters, coats, boots, and more during the late fall and early winter will make or break your vacation.—Ariel Scotti, Travel + Leisure, 22 Nov. 2023 This gave me a unique opportunity to tap into a niche that was untapped at the time, which was men’s jewelry.—Jane Thier, Fortune, 19 Nov. 2023 In the sprawling ecosystem of dance music, what niche does Turbo fill?—Katie Bain, Billboard, 17 Nov. 2023 Those are the most generous potential rewards Buy Side found among student cards, without jumping through hoops like monitoring rotating cash back categories or spending big-time in niche areas.—Ian Salisbury, wsj.com, 18 Nov. 2023 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'niche.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
Noun and Verb
French, from Middle French, from nicher to nest, from Vulgar Latin *nidicare, from Latin nidus nest — more at nest