Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: Nurse


English Wikipedia has an article on:

Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English norice, from Old French norrice, from Latin nūtrīcius (that nourishes), from nūtrīx (wet nurse), from nūtriō (to suckle).



nurse (plural nurses)

  1. (archaic) A wet nurse.
  2. A person (usually a woman) who takes care of other people’s young.
    They hired a nurse to care for their young boy.
  3. A person trained to provide care for the sick.
    The nurse made her rounds through the hospital ward.
    • 1990, Andrew Davies, Michael Dobbs, House of Cards, Season 1, Episode 4
      Francis Urquhart: Right. Mackenzie. Health. No chance of getting him into a demo at a hospital, I suppose?
      Tim Stamper: Doesn't go to hospitals any more. Kept getting beaten up by the nurses... I think he has trouble getting insured now.
  4. (figuratively) One who, or that which, brings up, rears, causes to grow, trains, or fosters.
    Eton College has been called "the chief nurse of England's statesmen".
  5. (horticulture) A shrub or tree that protects a young plant.
  6. (nautical) A lieutenant or first officer who takes command when the captain is unfit for his place.
  7. A larva of certain trematodes, which produces cercariae by asexual reproduction.
  8. A nurse shark.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Some speakers consider nurses (medical workers) to be female by default, and thus use "male nurse" to refer to a man doing the same job.

Derived terms[edit]



The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


nurse (third-person singular simple present nurses, present participle nursing, simple past and past participle nursed)

  1. (transitive) To breastfeed: to feed (a baby) at the breast; to suckle.
    She believes that nursing her baby will make him strong and healthy.
  2. (intransitive) To breastfeed: to be fed at the breast.
  3. (transitive) To care for (someone), especially in sickness; to tend to.
    She nursed him back to health.
  4. to treat kindly and with extra care
    She nursed the rosebush and that season it bloomed.
  5. to manage with care and economy
    Synonym: husband
  6. to drink slowly, to make it last
    Rob was nursing a small beer.
  7. to foster, to nourish
    • 2020 April 10, Stephen Buranyi, “The WHO v coronavirus: why it can't handle the pandemic”, in The Guardian[1]:
      If, like me, you have been confined to your home, glued to the news and nursing ever greater anxiety about the state of the world, you have probably become familiar with the sight of the World Health Organization’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and his daily press briefings.
  8. to hold closely to one's chest
    Would you like to nurse the puppy?
  9. (billiards) To strike (billiard balls) gently, so as to keep them in good position during a series of shots.
    • 1866, United States. Congress. Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, Supplemental report of the Joint Committee
      It is to our interest to let Lee and Johnston come together, just as a billiard-player would nurse the balls when he has them in a nice place

Usage notes[edit]

In sense “to drink slowly”, generally negative and particularly used for someone at a bar, suggesting they either cannot afford to buy another drink or are too miserly to do so. By contrast, sip is more neutral.



See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of norice