Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The daughter of one's brother or sister or of the brother or sister of one's spouse.
  • n. The illegitimate daughter of an ecclesiastic who has taken a vow of celibacy.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A daughter of someone’s sibling, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law; either the daughter of one's brother ("fraternal niece"), or of one's sister ("sororal niece").

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A relative, in general; especially, a descendant, whether male or female; a granddaughter or a grandson.
  • n. A daughter of one's brother or sister, or of one's brother-in-law or sister-in-law. In modern English, this is the primary meaning.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A grandchild, or more remote lineal descendant, whether male or female; specifically, a granddaughter.
  • n. The daughter of one's brother or sister.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a daughter of your brother or sister

Etymologies

Middle English nece, from Old French, from Vulgar Latin *neptia, from Latin neptis; see nepōt- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English nece ("niece, granddaughter"), from Old French nece ("niece, granddaughter") (Modern French nièce "niece") from Vulgar Latin *neptia, representing Latin neptis ("granddaughter"), from Proto-Indo-European *nepot- (“grandchild, sister's son”). Akin to Old High German nift ("niece, granddaughter") (German Nichte ("niece")). Displaced native Middle English nifte ("niece, granddaughter") (from Old English nift ("niece, granddaughter")). (Wiktionary)

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