niche

1 of 2

noun

1
a
: a recess in a wall especially for a statue
b
: something (such as a sheltered or private space) that resembles a recess in a wall
2
a
: a place, employment, status, or activity for which a person or thing is best fitted
finally found her niche
b
: a habitat supplying the factors necessary for the existence of an organism or species
c
: the ecological role of an organism in a community especially in regard to food consumption
d
: a specialized market

Illustration of niche

Illustration of niche
  • niche 1a

niche

2 of 2

verb

niched; niching

transitive verb

: to place in or as if in a niche (see niche entry 1)

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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.

Examples of niche in a Sentence

Noun To 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. 2001
The ivory-billed woodpecker, wan ghost of southern woodlands, may actually be flying forth from its niche in extinction. Frank Graham, Jr., Audubon, May/June 2000
Creatures 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, 1995
No, 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, 1990
A 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 niche Verb The 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. 1995
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Hot Topic never sponsored me, even though the show had like a little niche following. Angela Watercutter, WIRED, 5 Apr. 2024 But as Monday’s financial disclosure showed, that niche market might not be enough to put the company in the black. Lorraine Ali, Los Angeles Times, 3 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for niche 

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.

Word History

Etymology

Noun and Verb

French, from Middle French, from nicher to nest, from Vulgar Latin *nidicare, from Latin nidus nest — more at nest

First Known Use

Noun

1610, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1753, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of niche was in 1610

Dictionary Entries Near niche

Cite this Entry

“Niche.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/niche. Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

niche

noun
ˈnich
1
: a hollowed-out place in a wall especially for a statue
2
: a place, use, or work for which a person is best fitted
finally found her niche
3
a
: a habitat that contains the things necessary for a particular plant or animal to live
b
: the part that a particular living thing plays in an ecological community

Medical Definition

niche

noun
ˈnich sometimes ˈnish or ˈnēsh
: crater
typical niche formation resulting from an ulcer

More from Merriam-Webster on niche

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