From Middle English nether, nethere, nithere, from Old English niþera (“lower, under, lowest”, adjective), from niþer, niþor (“below, beneath, down, downwards, lower, in an inferior position”, adv), from Proto-Germanic *niþer, *niþra (“down”), from Proto-Indo-European *ni-, *nei- (“in, down”); akin to Old Saxon adjective nithiri (“nether”), adverb nithar (“down”), Old High German adjective nidari, nidaro (“nether”), adverb nidar (“down”) (see German nieder), Old Dutch nither (see Dutch neder) Old Norse adjective neðri, neðarri (“nether”), adverb niðr (“down”); all from a Germanic word that is a comparative of a word akin to Sanskrit नि (ni, “down”) and Albanian nën (“under, in”) from *nënd, compound of në (“in”) + dhe (“earth”), lit. in, under the earth; akin to Old English in.
- Lower; under.
- The disappointed child’s nether lip quivered.
- Lying beneath, or conceived as lying beneath, the Earth’s surface.
- The nether regions.
- 1873, Mark Twain, The Gilded Age, page187:
- When one thinks of the tremendous forces of the upper and the nether world which play for the mastery of the soul of a woman during the few years in which she passes from plastic girlhood to the ripe maturity of womanhood,
Alteration of earlier nither, from Middle English nitheren, from Old English niþerian (“ to depress, abase, bring low, humiliate, oppress, accuse, condemn”), from Old English niþer (“below, beneath, down, downwards, lower, in an inferior position”). See above.
- (transitive, UK dialectal, Northern England, Scotland) To bring or thrust down; bring or make low; lower; abase; humble.
- (transitive, UK dialectal, Northern England, Scotland) To constrict; straiten; confine; restrict; suppress; lay low; keep under; press in upon; vex; harass; oppress.
- (transitive, UK dialectal, Scotland) To pinch or stunt with cold or hunger; check in growth; shrivel; straiten.
- (transitive, UK dialectal, Scotland) To shrink or huddle, as with cold; be shivery; tremble.
- (transitive, UK dialectal, Scotland) To depreciate; disparage; undervalue.
nether (plural nethers)
- (UK dialectal, Scotland) Oppression; stress; a withering or stunting influence.
- (mining) A trouble; a fault or dislocation in a seam of coal.