from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A nephew or niece, especially in the plural or as a gender-neutral term.


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Coined by linguist Samuel E. Martin in 1951 from nephew/niece by analogy with sibling.


  • A friend has a hypernym for niece-or-nephew: "nibling".

    On needed words

  • Now, because it is needlesse to proceede any further, then what hath beene already spoken: let mee onely tell you (over and beside) and commit it to memorie, that the nature of meetings and speeches are such, as they ought to nippe or touch the hearer, like unto the Sheepes nibling on the tender grasse, and not as the sullen Dogge byteth.

    The Decameron


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  • A useful collective term for nieces *and* nephews. As in, "My sister brought the niblings to town for Christmas so they could catch up with their aunty." Derived from "sibling".

    I believe there are instances of it being used online (or reported online) as far back as 1994. I first came across it c. 1997.

    And I suspect "nibling" takes the prize for the word that has the greatest number of independent "inventors". Everyone seems to think they made this up!

    (The real-time twitter examples are just misspellings for "nibbling".)

    June 10, 2009

  • Yes, and an uncle too.

    October 2, 2008

  • Frindley -- I think I follow you, but I'm not sure. Do you now consider yourself an aunt?

    May 11, 2008

  • That says to me that there is a deeply compelling logic in the construction as well as a deeply compelling need for the word.

    Yeah. It's similar to ensnorkelled in that respect.

    May 11, 2008

  • sionnach & sarra: Many thanks! Were we in the same room, I'd stand and give you a novation.

    May 11, 2008

  • Ok, so i'm the 100th monkey. Or maybe the 1,000th. It is one of those things that is so sensible that it wills itself into existence.

    May 11, 2008

  • It's not in the roots of uncle, Asativum; nuncle is just a variant, though you're (partly) on the right track as to how it came about: I'm not sure the history of apple contains anything directly akin to napple, but orange has n- roots which persist today (Spanish naranja for instance). The process you describe is metanalysis.

    May 11, 2008

  • Nuncle Lear, nuncle Lear,

    tarry and take the fool with thee!

    A fox, when one has caught her,

    And such a daughter,

    Should sure to the slaughter,

    King Lear, act I, Scene 4

    ('nuncle' appears many times in the play)

    May 11, 2008

  • Isn't there some suggestion that the word uncle was once nuncle, and eventually transformed in the same way a napple became an apple? Or have I been had by spurious etymologistifiers again?

    May 11, 2008

  • Before my niece was born, when I had only nephews, I considered myself an uncle.

    May 10, 2008

  • This is slightly off-topic, but it's worth mentioning: a friend of mine calls her cousin's children her niecelings and nephewlings. She, in turn, is their auntlet.

    I, myself, have a nephewling (my cousin's cute little son Elijah). Apparently, this makes me an unclet.

    May 9, 2008

  • Haha! I like those even more!

    May 9, 2008

  • When they were younger, I called mine niecicles and nephules.

    May 9, 2008

  • Others have been there before you, jruberto. many of my friends use this term. See also:


    May 8, 2008

  • Now this one's interesting, because I made it up too. And it was some years ago now, my niblings are aged between 10 and 15. Then someone else I know made up the exact same word, quite independently of me; and now jruberto, and it appears dontcry. And even a quick fossick on the interwebs suggests that we are not alone. Not in the slightest.

    Wiktionary cites examples dating back to 1989. Urban Dictionary gives it some cred. And the really cute thing: in 2004 a group of English schoolchildren lobbied to have the word admitted to the OED. (Shades of Andrew Clements's Frindle in that story.)

    But that's a digression; my main point is that I don't think I've come across a word that is so consistently and independently invented by so many people. That says to me that there is a deeply compelling logic in the construction as well as a deeply compelling need for the word.

    So why isn't it in the OED??

    May 8, 2008

  • They sound...tasty. ;-)

    May 8, 2008

  • Ok, I made this one up.

    Gender-neutral pronoun for a niece or nephew. If your brothers and sisters are siblings, then...

    May 8, 2008