a. A structure or shelter made or used by a bird to hold its eggs during incubation and to house its young until fledged.
b. A structure or shelter in which other animals, such as reptiles, fish, or insects, deposit their eggs or tend their young.
c. A structure or complex built by ants, termites, or other social animals to house a colony.
d. A number of insects, birds, or other animals occupying a nest: attacked by a nest of hornets.
2. A place affording snug refuge or lodging; a home.
a. A place or environment that fosters rapid growth or development, especially of something undesirable; a hotbed: a nest of criminal activity.
b. Those who occupy or frequent such a place or environment.
a. A set of objects of graduated size that can be stacked together, each fitting within the one immediately larger: a nest of tables.
b. A cluster of similar things.
5. A group of weapons in a prepared position: a machine-gun nest.
v. nest·ed, nest·ing, nests
1. To build or occupy a nest.
2. To create and settle into a warm and secure refuge.
3. To hunt for birds' nests, especially in order to collect the eggs.
4. To fit one inside another.
1. To place in or as if in a nest.
2. To put snugly together or inside one another: to nest boxes.
[Middle English, from Old English; see sed- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
(click for a larger image)nest
nesting Japanese figures
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.