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Etymology 1[edit]

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, adverb), 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), Albanian nën ‎(under, in).


nether ‎(comparative nethermore, superlative nethermost)

  1. Lower; under.
    The disappointed child’s nether lip quivered.
  2. 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,
Derived terms[edit]


nether ‎(comparative more nether, superlative most nether)

  1. Down; downward.
  2. Low; low down.

Etymology 2[edit]

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.

Alternative forms[edit]


nether ‎(third-person singular simple present nethers, present participle nethering, simple past and past participle nethered)

  1. (transitive, Britain dialectal, Northern England, Scotland) To bring or thrust down; bring or make low; lower; abase; humble.
  2. (transitive, Britain dialectal, Northern England, Scotland) To constrict; straiten; confine; restrict; suppress; lay low; keep under; press in upon; vex; harass; oppress.
  3. (transitive, Britain dialectal, Scotland) To pinch or stunt with cold or hunger; check in growth; shrivel; straiten.
  4. (transitive, Britain dialectal, Scotland) To shrink or huddle, as with cold; be shivery; tremble.
  5. (transitive, Britain dialectal, Scotland) To depreciate; disparage; undervalue.
Derived terms[edit]


nether ‎(plural nethers)

  1. (Britain dialectal, Scotland) Oppression; stress; a withering or stunting influence.
  2. (mining) A trouble; a fault or dislocation in a seam of coal.