1. A person trained to provide medical care for the sick or disabled, especially one who is licensed and works in a hospital or physician's office.
a. A person employed to take care of a young child.
b. A woman employed to suckle children other than her own; a wet nurse.
3. One that serves as a nurturing or fostering influence or means: "Town life is the nurse of civilization" (C.L.R. James).
4. Zoology A worker ant or bee that feeds and cares for the colony's young.
v. nursed, nurs·ing, nurs·es
1. To serve as a nurse for: nursed the patient back to health.
2. To cause or allow to take milk from the breast or teat: a mother nursing her baby; whales nursing their young.
3. To try to cure by special care or treatment: nurse a cough with various remedies.
4. To treat carefully, especially in order to prevent pain: He nursed his injured knee by shifting his weight to the other leg.
5. To manage or guide carefully; look after with care; foster: nursed her business through the depression. See Synonyms at nurture.
6. To bear privately in the mind: nursing a grudge.
7. To consume slowly, especially in order to conserve: nursed one drink all evening.
1. To serve as a nurse.
a. To take milk from the breast or teat; suckle: The baby is nursing. Puppies nurse for a few weeks.
b. To feed an offspring from the breast or teat: a mother who's nursing; what to feed cows when they're nursing.
[Middle English norice, nurse, wet nurse, from Old French norrice, from Vulgar Latin *nutrīcia, from Late Latin nūtrīcia, from feminine of Latin nūtrīcius, that suckles, from nūtrīx, nūtrīc-, wet nurse; see (s)nāu- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
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.