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Fritz von Uhde, Kinderstube (Nursery, 1889).[n 1] The painting depicts children playing in a nursery (sense 1.1).
Politicians María Eugenia Vidal and Carolina Stanley visiting a nursery (sense 1.2) or crèche in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
A nursery (sense 1.3) or nursery school in Osaka, Japan.
A calf in the nursery of a farm (sense 2.1).
A nursery (sense 2.2) or garden centre in Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham, England, United Kingdom.

From Middle English noricerie, norserye (children's nursery; state of being fostered or nursed; education, upbringing) [and other forms],[1] from Old French norricerie, nourricerie, from norrice, nourrice (modern French nourrice (childminder, nanny; wet nurse)) + -erie (suffix forming feminine nouns). Norrice and nourrice are derived from Late Latin nūtrīcia (wet nurse), from Latin nūtrīcius (that nurses or suckles; nourishing), from nūtriō (to breastfeed, nurse, suckle), possibly ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *(s)neh₂- (to flow). The English word may be analysed as nourice, nurse +‎ -ery (suffix forming nouns meaning ‘place of’).[2]



nursery (countable and uncountable, plural nurseries)

  1. (countable) A place where nursing (breastfeeding) or the raising of children is carried on.
    1. (by extension) Especially in European countries: a room or area in a household set apart for the care of children.
      • 1869 May, Anthony Trollope, “Lady Milborough as Ambassador”, in He Knew He Was Right, volume I, London: Strahan and Company, [], OCLC 1118026626, page 87:
        As soon as she was alone and the carriage had been driven well away from the door, Mrs. Trevelyan left the drawing-room and went up to the nursery. As she entered she clothed her face with her sweetest smile. "How is his own mother's dearest, dearest, darling duck?" she said, putting out her arms and taking the boy from the nurse.
      • 1907 August, Robert W[illiam] Chambers, “His Own People”, in The Younger Set, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, OCLC 24962326, page 14:
        But they had already discovered that he could be bullied, and they had it their own way; and presently Selwyn lay prone upon the nursery floor, impersonating a ladrone while pleasant shivers chased themselves over Drina, whom he was stalking.
    2. A place where the pre-school children of working parents are supervised during the day; a crèche, a daycare centre.
    3. A nursery school (a school where pre-school children learn and play at the same time).
    4. (Philippines) The first year of pre-school.
  2. (countable, also figuratively) A place where anything is fostered and growth promoted.
    • c. 1590–1592, William Shakespeare, “The Taming of the Shrew”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act I, scene i], page 210, column 2:
      [S]ince for the great deſire I had
      To ſee faire Padua, nurſerie of Arts,
      I am arriu'd for fruitfull Lombardie,
      The pleaſant garden of great Italy.
    • 1629, Fra[ncis] Lenton, “Section XIV. The Young Gallant’s Whirlgig.”, in James Orchard Halliwell, editor, The Marriage of Wit and Wisdom, an Ancient Interlude. [], London: [] Shakespeare Society, published 1846, OCLC 1118530543, page 129:
      Playes are the nurseries of vice, the bawd, / That thorow the senses steales our hearts abroad, / Tainting our eares with obscæne bawdery, / Lascivious words, and wanton ribaulry.
    • 2010, Tracey Wickham; with Peter Meares, chapter 1, in Treading Water, North Sydney, N.S.W.: Ebury Publishing, →ISBN; republished Sydney, N.S.W.: ReadHowYouWant, 2011, →ISBN, part 1 (Birth of a Champion: That Solomon’s Crawl), page 7:
      Nudgee College is regarded as the greatest rugby nursery in Queensland, with the boys in the blue-and-white butcher's stripes winning more Greater Public School rugby premierships than any other team.
    1. (agriculture, zoology) A place where animals breed, or where young animals are naturally or artificially reared (for example, on a farm).
    2. (horticulture) A place where young shrubs, trees, vines, etc., are cultivated for transplanting, or (more generally) made available for public sale, a garden centre; also (obsolete) a plantation of young trees.
      • 1677, John Beale, “To the Much Honoured and Worthy Henry Oldenburg, Esq.; Secretary to the Royal Society”, in Nurseries, Orchards, Profitable Gardens, and Vineyards Encouraged, [], London: Printed for Henry Brome [], OCLC 228672794, pages 2–3:
        [I]f we had but one skilful and diligent Nurſery-man, who had a complete Nurſery of all ſorts of good fruit, and of the beſt Vines that agree beſt with this Climate, and Mulberry Trees, and wholſom Trees for the avenues of Cities, Towns, and fair Manſions; That one ſuch Nurſery within ten or fifteen miles in all the Vales of theſe three united Kingdoms, would make all theſe Plantations ſpread apace, and amount to the value of Millions yearly. [...] I am ſure, that many in Wiltſhire, Hampſhire, Dorſetſhire, and Sommerſetſhire are obliged and the richer for the famous Garden of Wilton, and for the goodly Nurſeries about Saliſbury.
      • 2004, John Mason, “Selecting and Managing Nursery Stock”, in Nursery Management, 2nd edition, Collingwood, Vic.: Landlinks Press, →ISBN, page 73:
        Managers of small nurseries may also come into direct contact with the public, who may have complaints about invasive nursery plants or may want varieties that a nursery manager considers invasive. Thus, retail nursery managers have an important role in educating both the consumer public and the wholesale nursery sector in environmental weed issues.
    3. (sports) A club or team for developing the skills of young players.
  3. (countable) Something which educates and nurtures.
    Commerce is the nursery of seamen.
    • 1662, Daniel Burston, Ἐυαγγελιστης ετι Ἐυαγγελιζομενος [Euangelistes eti Euangelizomenos]. Or, The Evangelist yet Evangelizing. [], Dublin: Printed by John Crook, [], and are to be sold by Samuel Dancer, [...], OCLC 557562434, pages 69–70:
      The Apoſtles in their travails took ſome choice, and hopeful perſons to accompany them, to Miniſter unto them, and obſerve their waies, who were a kind of ſeminary, or nurſery of Apoſtles, planted, with deſigned ſucceſſors.
    • 1822 October, Joshua L[acy] Wilson, “Sermon I. Methods of Peace.”, in Original Sermons; by Presbyterian Ministers, in the Mississippi Valley, Cincinnati, Oh.: Published by M‘Millan & Clopper. [], published 1833, OCLC 7636930, page 22:
      [I]n fine, they must consider Christian families as the nurseries of the church on earth, as the church on earth is the nursery of the church in heaven; and thus be brought to bring up youth in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord:" and then we shall have peace; then all will speak the same things, and there will be no divisions among you.
  4. (countable, billiards) Short for nursery cannon (a carom shot involving balls that are very close together).
  5. (countable, obsolete, rare) Someone or something that is nursed; a nursling.
  6. (uncountable, obsolete) The act of nursing or rearing.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]



  1. ^ From the collection of the Kunsthalle Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany.


  1. ^ noricerīe, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. ^ nursery, n. and adj.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2003; “nursery, n.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

Further reading[edit]



Borrowed from English nursery.


nursery f (invariable)

  1. nursery (place for the care of children)

Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of noricerie