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

  • n. An effort or endeavor to realize an aim.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a mental or physical effort to attain a specific goal; a striving

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A striving; an effort; a conatus.
  • n.
  • n. The periodic procreative desire manifested in the spring by birds, etc.
  • n. The contraction of the diaphragm and abdominal muscles to evacuate feces or urine.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Effort; endeavor; conatus.
  • n. A genus of small hawks of the family Falconidæ, containing such as are called in Great Britain sparrow-hawks. See Accipiter.
  • n. The generative impulse occurring periodically, as with many creatures in the spring.

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

  • n. an effortful attempt to attain a goal


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

Latin nīsus, from past participle of nītī, to strive.


  • "nisus"; not even _struggle_, in the sense of _contention_, an endeavour an effort, a strain.

    Notes and Queries, Number 36, July 6, 1850

  • 'nisus' will, I think, be more profitably employed in enkindling meditation on holiness, and thirstings after the mind of Christ.

    The Literary Remains of Samuel Taylor Coleridge

  • Barfield believes in a nisus, a struggling to be born and to emerge into consciousness of the internal ordering principle by which a plant develops, an embryo develops, etc.

    Order « Unknowing

  • And the effort of that nexus is, as Barfield likes to put it, a nisus — and a very useful word.

    A Cold Shower « Unknowing

  • While our concerns surely be grounded in "abandonment, exposure, and vulnerability," it is worth staying awake to the evolutionary nisus that beckons.

    Archive 2009-08-01

  • The temptation to prove or disprove something with an aphorism or epigram secures instant juvenile glee, but nisus of impelling wider perspective flee.

    Archive 2009-03-01

  • He insists that religious belief as a whole is not superstition, and that it is true so far as it is an expression of a ˜nisus to totality™ or a ˜move to wholeness.™

    My Recycled Soul

  • The following bird species occur in the Laurissilva forest: Accipiter nisus, Apus unicolor and Fringila coelebs maderensis.

    Floresta Laurissilva da Madeira, Portugal

  • The attitude that words may be discarded -- indeed, that words have caducity at all -- is not salubriously abstergent, but reflects an agrestic nisus that all cultivated English speakers must eschew.

    Archive 2008-10-01

  • The operation of a nisus perhaps needs the tension of a conflictsome scenario and hence, the actual hardly helps.

    Archive 2008-06-01


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Contemplative, maybe? Or constitutionalist?

    June 28, 2016

  • Countess. It thinks you're a countess.

    June 28, 2016

  • The random word feature showed me conatus, which brought me here. Then, a few clicks later, it showed me continent. I'm sensing a theme.

    June 27, 2016

  • an effort or striving toward a particular goal or attainment; impulse.

    December 2, 2006