British Library Cataloguing Data
The concise Oxford dictionary of current English.--8th ed.
1. English language--Dictionaries
I. Allen, R. E. (Robert Edward), 1944-423
ISBN 0-19-861243-5 thumb index
ISBN 0-19-861200-1 plain
N(1) n. (also n) (pl. Ns or N's) 1 the fourteenth letter of the
alphabet. 2 Printing en. 3 Math. an indefinite number. Ьto
the nth (or nth degree) 1 Math. to any required power. 2 to any
extent; to the utmost.
na adv. Sc. (in comb.; usu. with an auxiliary verb) = NOT (I canna
do it; they didna go).
n/a abbr. 1 not applicable. 2 not available.
NAAFI abbr. Brit. 1 Navy, Army, and Air Force Institutes. 2 a
canteen for servicemen run by the NAAFI.
nab v.tr. (nabbed, nabbing) sl. 1 arrest; catch in wrongdoing. 2
seize, grab. [17th c., also napp, as in KIDNAP: orig. unkn.]
nabob n. 1 hist. a Muslim official or governor under the Mughal
empire. 2 (formerly) a conspicuously wealthy person, esp. one
returned from India with a fortune. [Port. nababo or Sp.
nabab, f. Urdu (as NAWAB)]
nacarat n. a bright orange-red colour. [F, perh. f. Sp. & Port.
nacardo (nacar NACRE)]
nacelle n. 1 the outer casing of the engine of an aircraft. 2 the car
of an airship. [F, f. LL navicella dimin. of L navis ship]
nacho n. (pl. -os) (usu. in pl.) a tortilla chip, usu. topped with
melted cheese and spices etc. [20th c.: orig. uncert.]
NACODS abbr. (in the UK) National Association of Colliery Overmen,
Deputies, and Shotfirers.
nacre n. mother-of-pearl from any shelled mollusc. ЬЬnacred adj.
nacreous adj. nacrous adj. [F]
nadir n. 1 the part of the celestial sphere directly below an
observer (opp. ZENITH). 2 the lowest point in one's fortunes;
a time of deep despair. [ME f. OF f. Arab. nazir (as-samt)
opposite (to the zenith)]
naevus n. (US nevus) (pl. naevi) 1 a birthmark in the form of a
raised red patch on the skin. 2 = MOLE(2). ЬЬnaevoid adj. [L]
naff(1) v.intr. sl. 1 (in imper., foll. by off) go away. 2 (as
naffing adj.) used as an intensive to express annoyance etc.
[prob. euphem. for FUCK: cf. EFF]
nag(1) v. & n. --v. (nagged, nagging) 1 a tr. annoy or irritate (a
person) with persistent fault-finding or continuous urging. b
intr. (often foll. by at) find fault, complain, or urge, esp.
persistently. 2 intr. (of a pain) ache dully but persistently.
3 a tr. worry or preoccupy (a person, the mind, etc.) (his
mistake nagged him). b intr. (often foll. by at) worry or gnaw.
--n. a persistently nagging person. ЬЬnagger n. naggingly adv.
[of dial., perh. Scand. or LG, orig.: cf. Norw. & Sw. nagga
gnaw, irritate, LG (g)naggen provoke]
nag(2) n. 1 colloq. a horse. 2 a small riding-horse or pony. [ME:
Nah. abbr. Nahum (Old Testament).
Nahuatl n. & adj. --n. 1 a member of a group of peoples native to S.
Mexico and Central America, including the Aztecs. 2 the
language of these people. --adj. of or concerning the Nahuatl
peoples or language. ЬЬNahuatlan adj. [Sp. f. Nahuatl]
naiad n. (pl. naiads or -des) 1 Mythol. a water-nymph. 2 the larva
of a dragonfly etc. 3 any aquatic plant of the genus Najas,
with narrow leaves and small flowers. [L Na‹as Na‹ad- f. Gk
Naias -ados f. nao flow]
nail n. & v. --n. 1 a small usu. sharpened metal spike with a
broadened flat head, driven in with a hammer to join things
together or to serve as a peg, protection (cf. HOBNAIL), or
decoration. 2 a a horny covering on the upper surface of the
tip of the human finger or toe. b a claw or talon. c a hard
growth on the upper mandible of some soft-billed birds. 3 hist.
a measure of cloth length (equal to 2¬ inches). --v.tr. 1
fasten with a nail or nails (nailed it to the beam; nailed the
planks together). 2 fix or keep (a person, attention, etc.)
fixed. 3 a secure, catch, or get hold of (a person or thing).
b expose or discover (a lie or a liar). Ьhard as nails 1
callous; unfeeling. 2 in good physical condition. nail-biting
causing severe anxiety or tension. nail-brush a small brush for
cleaning the nails. nail one's colours to the mast persist;
refuse to give in. nail down 1 bind (a person) to a promise
etc. 2 define precisely. 3 fasten (a thing) with nails. nail
enamel US = nail polish. nail-file a roughened metal or emery
strip used for smoothing the nails. nail-head Archit. an
ornament like the head of a nail. nail in a person's coffin
something thought to increase the risk of death. nail polish a
varnish applied to the nails to colour them or make them shiny.
nail-punch (or -set) a tool for sinking the head of a nail below
a surface. nail-scissors small curved scissors for trimming the
nails. nail up 1 close (a door etc.) with nails. 2 fix (a
thing) at a height with nails. nail varnish Brit. = nail
polish. on the nail (esp. of payment) without delay (cash on
the nail). ЬЬnailed adj. (also in comb.). nailless adj. [OE
n‘gel, n‘glan f. Gmc]
nailer n. a nail-maker. ЬЬnailery n.
nainsook n. a fine soft cotton fabric, orig. Indian. [Hindi nainsukh f.
nain eye + sukh pleasure]
naira n. the chief monetary unit of Nigeria. [contr. of Nigeria]
na‹ve adj. (also naive) 1 artless; innocent; unaffected. 2 foolishly
credulous; simple. ЬЬna‹vely adv. na‹veness n. [F, fem. of
na‹f f. L nativus NATIVE]
na‹vety n. (also naivety, na‹vet‚) (pl. -ies or na‹vet‚s) 1 the state
or quality of being na‹ve. 2 a na‹ve action. [F na‹vet‚ (as
naked adj. 1 without clothes; nude. 2 plain; undisguised; exposed
(the naked truth; his naked soul). 3 (of a light, flame, etc.)
unprotected from the wind etc.; unshaded. 4 defenceless. 5
without addition, comment, support, evidence, etc. (his naked
word; naked assertion). 6 a (of landscape) barren; treeless. b
(of rock) exposed; without soil etc. 7 (of a sword etc.)
unsheathed. 8 (usu. foll. by of) devoid; without. 9 without
leaves, hairs, scales, shell, etc. 10 (of a room, wall, etc.)
without decoration, furnishings, etc.; empty, plain. Ьnaked
boys (or lady or ladies) the meadow saffron, which flowers while
leafless: also called autumn crocus. the naked eye unassisted
vision, e.g. without a telescope, microscope, etc. ЬЬnakedly
adv. nakedness n. [OE nacod f. Gmc]
naker n. hist. a kettledrum. [ME f. OF nacre nacaire f. Arab.
NALGO abbr. Brit. National and Local Government Officers'
adj. & n. --adj. 1 lacking vigour or drive; weak. 2 insipidly
pretty or sentimental. --n. (pl. -ies) 1 a namby-pamby
person. 2 namby-pamby talk. [fanciful formulation on name of
Ambrose Philips, Engl. pastoral writer d. 1749]
name n. & v. --n. 1 a the word by which an individual person,
animal, place, or thing is known, spoken of, etc. (mentioned him
by name; her name is Joanna). b all who go under one name; a
family, clan, or people in terms of its name (the Scottish
name). 2 a a usu. abusive term used of a person etc. (called
him names). b a word denoting an object or esp. a class of
objects, ideas, etc. (what is the name of that kind of vase?;
that sort of behaviour has no name). 3 a famous person (many
great names were there). 4 a reputation, esp. a good one (has a
name for honesty; their name is guarantee enough). 5 something
existing only nominally (opp. FACT, REALITY). 6 (attrib.)
widely known (a name brand of shampoo). --v.tr. 1 give a usu.
specified name to (named the dog Spot). 2 call (a person or
thing) by the right name (named the man in the photograph). 3
mention; specify; cite (named his requirements). 4 nominate;
appoint, etc. (was named the new chairman). 5 specify as
something desired (named it as her dearest wish). 6 Brit.
Parl. (of the Speaker) mention (an MP) as disobedient to the
chair. Ьby name called (Tom by name). have to one's name
possess. in all but name virtually. in name (or name only) as
a mere formality; hardly at all (is the leader in name only).
in a person's name = in the name of. in the name of calling to
witness; invoking (in the name of goodness). in one's own name
independently; without authority. make a name for oneself
become famous. name after (US for) call (a person) by the name
of (a specified person) (named him after his uncle Roger).
name-calling abusive language. name-child (usu. foll. by of)
one named after another person. name-day 1 the feast-day of a
saint after whom a person is named. 2 Brit. = ticket-day. name
the day arrange a date (esp. of a woman fixing the date for her
wedding). name-drop (-dropped, -dropping) indulge in
name-dropping. name-dropper a person who name-drops.
name-dropping the familiar mention of famous people as a form of
boasting. name names mention specific names, esp. in
accusation. name of the game colloq. the purpose or essence of
an action etc. name-part the title role in a play etc.
name-plate a plate or panel bearing the name of an occupant of a
room etc. name-tape a tape fixed to a garment etc. and bearing
the name of the owner. of (or by) the name of called. put
one's name down for 1 apply for. 2 promise to subscribe (a
sum). what's in a name? names are arbitrary labels. you name
it colloq. no matter what; whatever you like. ЬЬnameable adj.
[OE nama, noma, (ge)namian f. Gmc, rel. to L nomen, Gk onoma]
nameless adj. 1 having no name or name-inscription. 2 inexpressible;
indefinable (a nameless sensation). 3 unnamed; anonymous, esp.
deliberately (our informant, who shall be nameless). 4 too
loathsome or horrific to be named (nameless vices). 5 obscure;
inglorious. 6 illegitimate. ЬЬnamelessly adv. namelessness n.
namely adv. that is to say; in other words.
namesake n. a person or thing having the same name as another (was her
aunt's namesake). [prob. f. phr. for the name's sake]
namma var. of GNAMMA.
nan n. (also nana, nanna) Brit. colloq. grandmother. [childish
nana n. sl. a silly person; a fool. [perh. f. BANANA]
nancy n. & adj. (also nance) sl. --n. (pl. -ies) (in full nancy
boy) an effeminate man, esp. a homosexual. --adj. effeminate.
[pet-form of the name Ann]
nankeen n. 1 a yellowish cotton cloth. 2 a yellowish buff colour. 3
(in pl.) trousers of nankeen. [Nankin(g) in China, where orig.
nanna var. of NAN.
nanny n. & v. --n. (pl. -ies) 1 a a child's nurse. b an unduly
protective person, institution, etc. (the nanny State). 2 =
NAN. 3 (in full nanny-goat) a female goat. --v.tr. (-ies,
-ied) be unduly protective towards. [formed as NANCY]
nano- comb. form denoting a factor of 10(-9) (nanosecond). [L f. Gk
nanometre n. one thousand-millionth of a metre.
n. one thousand-millionth of a second.
naos n. (pl. naoi) Gk Hist. the inner part of a temple. [Gk, =
nap(1) v. & n. --v.intr. (napped, napping) sleep lightly or briefly.
--n. a short sleep or doze, esp. by day (took a nap). Ьcatch a
person napping 1 find a person asleep or off guard. 2 detect in
negligence or error. [OE hnappian, rel. to OHG (h)naffezan to
nap(2) n. & v. --n. 1 the raised pile on textiles, esp. velvet. 2 a
soft downy surface. 3 Austral. colloq. blankets, bedding,
swag. --v.tr. (napped, napping) raise a nap on (cloth).
ЬЬnapless adj. [ME noppe f. MDu., MLG noppe nap, noppen trim
nap(3) n. & v. --n. 1 a a form of whist in which players declare the
number of tricks they expect to take, up to five. b a call of
five in this game. 2 a the betting of all one's money on one
horse etc. b a tipster's choice for this. --v.tr. (napped,
napping) name (a horse etc.) as a probable winner. Ьgo nap 1
attempt to take all five tricks in nap. 2 risk everything in
one attempt. 3 win all the matches etc. in a series. nap hand
a good winning position worth risking in a venture. not go nap
on Austral. colloq. not be too keen on; not care much for.
[abbr. of orig. name of game NAPOLEON]
napa var. of NAPPA.
napalm n. & v. --n. 1 a thickening agent produced from naphthenic
acid, other fatty acids, and aluminium. 2 a jellied petrol made
from this, used in incendiary bombs. --v.tr. attack with napalm
bombs. [NAPHTHENIC + palmitic acid in coconut oil]
nape n. the back of the neck. [ME: orig. unkn.]
napery n. Sc. or archaic household linen, esp. table linen. [ME f. OF
naperie f. nape (as NAPKIN)]
naphtha n. an inflammable oil obtained by the dry distillation of
organic substances such as coal, shale, or petroleum. [L f. Gk,
= inflammable volatile liquid issuing from the earth, of
n. a white crystalline aromatic substance produced by the
distillation of coal tar and used in mothballs and the
manufacture of dyes etc. ЬЬnaphthalic adj. [NAPHTHA + -ENE]
naphthene n. any of a group of cycloalkanes. [NAPHTHA + -ENE]
adj. of a naphthene or its radical. Ьnaphthenic acid any
carboxylic acid resulting from the refining of petroleum.
n. see LOGARITHM. [J. Napier, Sc. mathematician d. 1617]
napkin n. 1 (in full table napkin) a square piece of linen, paper,
etc. used for wiping the lips, fingers, etc. at meals, or
serving fish etc. on; a serviette. 2 Brit. a baby's nappy. 3 a
small towel. Ьnapkin-ring a ring used to hold (and distinguish)
a person's table napkin when not in use. [ME f. OF nappe f. L
napoleon n. 1 hist. a gold twenty-franc piece minted in the reign of
Napoleon I. 2 hist. a 19th-c. high boot. 3 = NAP(3). 4 US =
MILLEFEUILLE. Ьdouble napoleon hist. a forty-franc piece. [F
napol‚on f. Napol‚on, name of 19th-c. French emperors]
adj. of, relating to, or characteristic of Napoleon I or his
nappa n. (also napa) a soft leather made by a special process from
the skin of sheep or goats. [Napa in California]
nappe n. Geol. a sheet of rock that has moved sideways over
neighbouring strata, usu. as a result of overthrust. [F nappe
napper n. Brit. sl. the head. [18th c.: orig. uncert.]
nappy n. (pl. -ies) Brit. a piece of towelling or other absorbent
material wrapped round a baby to absorb or retain urine and
faeces. Ьnappy rash inflammation of a baby's skin, caused by
prolonged contact with a damp nappy. [abbr. of NAPKIN]
narceine n. a narcotic alkaloid obtained from opium. [F narc‚ine f. Gk
n. Psychol. excessive or erotic interest in oneself, one's
physical features, etc. ЬЬnarcissist n. narcissistic adj.
narcissistically adv. [Narcissus (Gk Narkissos), youth who fell
in love with his reflection in water]
narcissus n. (pl. narcissi or narcissuses) any bulbous plant of the
genus Narcissus, esp. N. poeticus bearing a heavily scented
single flower with an undivided corona edged with crimson and
yellow. [L f. Gk narkissos, perh. f. narke numbness, with ref.
to its narcotic effects]
n. Med. a disease with fits of sleepiness and drowsiness.
ЬЬnarcoleptic adj. & n. [Gk narkoo make numb, after EPILEPSY]
narcosis n. 1 Med. the working or effects of soporific narcotics. 2 a
state of insensibility. [Gk narkosis f. narkoo make numb]
narcotic adj. & n. --adj. 1 (of a substance) inducing drowsiness,
sleep, stupor, or insensibility. 2 (of a drug) affecting the
mind. 3 of or involving narcosis. 4 soporific. --n. a
narcotic substance, drug, or influence. ЬЬnarcotically adv.
narcotism n. narcotize v.tr. (also -ise). narcotization n.
[ME f. OF narcotique or med.L f. Gk narkotikos (as NARCOSIS)]
nard n. 1 any of various plants yielding an aromatic balsam used by
the ancients. 2 = SPIKENARD. [ME f. L nardus f. Gk nardos f.
nardoo n. 1 a clover-like plant, Marsilea drummondii, native to
Australia. 2 a food made from the spores of this plant.
nares n.pl. Anat. the nostrils. ЬЬnarial adj. [pl. of L naris]
narghile n. an oriental tobacco-pipe with the smoke drawn through water;
a hookah. [Pers. nargileh (nargil coconut)]
nark n. & v. Brit. sl. --n. 1 a police informer or decoy. 2
Austral. an annoying person or thing. --v.tr. (usu. in passive)
annoy; infuriate (was narked by their attitude). Ьnark it!
stop that! [Romany nak nose]
narky adj. (narkier, narkiest) sl. bad-tempered, irritable. [NARK]
narrate v.tr. (also absol.) 1 give a continuous story or account of. 2
provide a spoken commentary or accompaniment for (a film etc.).
ЬЬnarratable adj. narration n. [L narrare narrat-]
narrative n. & adj. --n. 1 a spoken or written account of connected
events in order of happening. 2 the practice or art of
narration. --adj. in the form of, or concerned with, narration
(narrative verse). ЬЬnarratively adv. [F narratif -ive f. LL
narrativus (as NARRATE)]
narrator n. 1 an actor, announcer, etc. who delivers a commentary in a
film, broadcast, etc. 2 a person who narrates. [L (as
narrow adj., n., & v. --adj. (narrower, narrowest) 1 a of small width
in proportion to length; lacking breadth. b confined or
confining; constricted (within narrow bounds). 2 of limited
scope; restricted (in the narrowest sense). 3 with little
margin (a narrow escape). 4 searching; precise; exact (a narrow
examination). 5 = NARROW-MINDED. 6 (of a vowel) tense. 7 of
small size. --n. 1 (usu. in pl.) the narrow part of a strait,
river, sound, etc. 2 a narrow pass or street. --v. 1 intr.
become narrow; diminish; contract; lessen. 2 tr. make narrow;
constrict; restrict. Ьnarrow boat Brit. a canal boat, esp. one
less than 7 ft. (2.1 metres) wide. narrow circumstances
poverty. narrow cloth cloth less than 52 inches wide. narrow
gauge a railway track that has a smaller gauge than the standard
one. narrow seas the English Channel and the Irish Sea. narrow
squeak 1 a narrow escape. 2 a success barely attained.
ЬЬnarrowish adj. narrowly adv. narrowness n. [OE nearu nearw-
adj. rigid or restricted in one's views, intolerant,
prejudiced, illiberal. ЬЬnarrow-mindedly adv.
narthex n. 1 a railed-off antechamber or porch etc. at the western
entrance of some early Christian churches, used by catechumens,
penitents, etc. 2 a similar antechamber in a modern church. [L
f. Gk narthex giant fennel, stick, casket, narthex]
narwhal n. an Arctic white whale, Monodon monoceros, the male of which
has a long straight spirally fluted tusk developed from one of
its teeth. Also called BELUGA. [Du. narwal f. Da. narhval f.
hval whale: cf. ON n hvalr (perh. f. n r corpse, with ref. to
nary adj. colloq. or dial. not a; no (nary a one). [f. ne'er a]
NAS abbr. Brit. Noise Abatement Society.
NASA abbr. (in the US) National Aeronautics and Space
nasal adj. & n. --adj. 1 of, for, or relating to the nose. 2
Phonet. (of a letter or a sound) pronounced with the breath
passing through the nose, e.g. m, n, ng, or French en, un, etc.
3 (of the voice or speech) having an intonation caused by
breathing through the nose. --n. 1 Phonet. a nasal letter or
sound. 2 hist. a nose-piece on a helmet. ЬЬnasality n.
nasalize v.intr. & tr. (also -ise). nasalization n. nasally
adv. [F nasal or med.L nasalis f. L nasus nose]
nascent adj. 1 in the act of being born. 2 just beginning to be; not
yet mature. 3 Chem. just being formed and therefore unusually
reactive (nascent hydrogen). ЬЬnascency n. [L nasci nascent-
naseberry n. (pl. -ies) a sapodilla. [Sp. & Port. n‚spera medlar f. L
(see MEDLAR): assim. to BERRY]
naso- comb. form nose. [L nasus nose]
adj. of or relating to the nose and forehead.
nastic adj. Bot. (of the movement of plant parts) not determined by
an external stimulus. [Gk nastos squeezed together f. nasso to
n. 1 (in general use) a trailing plant, Tropaeolum majus, with
rounded edible leaves and bright orange, yellow, or red flowers.
2 any cruciferous plant of the genus Nasturtium, including
nasty adj. (nastier, nastiest) 1 a highly unpleasant (a nasty
experience). b annoying; objectionable (the car has a nasty
habit of breaking down). 2 difficult to negotiate; dangerous,
serious (a nasty fence; a nasty question; a nasty illness). 3
(of a person or animal) ill-natured, ill-tempered, spiteful;
violent, offensive (nasty to his mother; turns nasty when he's
drunk). 4 (of the weather) foul, wet, stormy. 5 a disgustingly
dirty, filthy. b unpalatable; disagreeable (nasty smell). c
(of a wound) septic. 6 a obscene. b delighting in obscenity.
Ьa nasty bit (or piece) of work colloq. an unpleasant or
contemptible person. a nasty one 1 a rebuff; a snub. 2 an
awkward question. 3 a disabling blow etc. ЬЬnastily adv.
nastiness n. [ME: orig. unkn.]
NAS/UWT abbr. (in the UK) National Association of Schoolmasters and
Union of Women Teachers.
Nat. abbr. 1 National. 2 Nationalist. 3 Natural.
natal adj. of or from one's birth. [ME f. L natalis (as NATION)]
natality n. (pl. -ies) birth rate. [F natalit‚ (as NATAL)]
natation n. formal or literary the act or art of swimming. [L natatio
f. natare swim]
adj. (also natatory) formal 1 swimming. 2 of or concerning
swimming. [LL natatorius f. L natator swimmer (as NATATION)]
n. US a swimming-pool, esp. indoors. [LL neut. of natatorius
natch adv. colloq. = NATURALLY. [abbr.]
nates n.pl. Anat. the buttocks. [L]
NATFHE abbr. (in the UK) National Association of Teachers in Further
and Higher Education.
nathless adv. (also natheless) archaic nevertheless. [ME f. OE na not
(f. ne not + a ever) + THE + l‘s LESS]
nation n. 1 a community of people of mainly common descent, history,
language, etc., forming a State or inhabiting a territory. 2 a
tribe or confederation of tribes of N. American Indians. Ьlaw
of nations Law international law. ЬЬnationhood n. [ME f. OF f.
L natio -onis f. nasci nat- be born]
national adj. & n. --adj. 1 of or common to a nation or the nation. 2
peculiar to or characteristic of a particular nation. --n. 1 a
citizen of a specified country, usu. entitled to hold that
country's passport (French nationals). 2 a fellow countryman.
3 (the National) = Grand National. Ьnational anthem a song
adopted by a nation, expressive of its identity etc. and
intended to inspire patriotism. National Assembly 1 an elected
house of legislature in various countries. 2 hist. the elected
legislature in France 1789-91. National Assistance hist. 1 (in
Britain) the former official name for supplementary benefits
under National Insurance. 2 such benefits. national bank US a
bank chartered under the federal government. national
convention US a convention of a major political party,
nominating candidates for the presidency etc. national debt the
money owed by a State because of loans to it. national football
Austral. Australian Rules football. National Front a UK
political party with extreme reactionary views on immigration
etc. national grid Brit. 1 the network of high-voltage
electric power lines between major power stations. 2 the metric
system of geographical coordinates used in maps of the British
Isles. National Guard (in the US) the primary reserve force
partly maintained by the States but available for federal use.
National Health (or Health Service) (in the UK) a system of
national medical care paid for mainly by taxation and started in
1948. national income the total money earned within a nation.
National Insurance (in the UK) the system of compulsory payments
by employed persons (supplemented by employers) to provide State
assistance in sickness, unemployment, retirement, etc. national
park an area of natural beauty protected by the State for the
use of the general public. national service Brit. hist.
service in the army etc. under conscription. National Socialism
hist. the doctrines of nationalism, racial purity, etc.,
adopted by the Nazis. National Socialist hist. a member of the
fascist party implementing National Socialism in Germany,
1933-45. National Trust (in the UK, Australia, etc.) an
organization for maintaining and preserving historic buildings
etc. ЬЬnationally adv. [F (as NATION)]
n. 1 a patriotic feeling, principles, etc. b an extreme form
of this; chauvinism. 2 a policy of national independence.
ЬЬnationalist n. & adj. nationalistic adj. nationalistically
n. (pl. -ies) 1 a the status of belonging to a particular
nation (what is your nationality?; has British nationality). b
a nation (people of all nationalities). 2 the condition of
being national; distinctive national qualities. 3 an ethnic
group forming a part of one or more political nations. 4
existence as a nation; nationhood. 5 patriotic sentiment.
v.tr. (also -ise) 1 take over (railways, coal-mines, the steel
industry, land, etc.) from private ownership on behalf of the
State. 2 a make national. b make into a nation. 3 naturalize
(a foreigner). ЬЬnationalization n. nationalizer n. [F
nationaliser (as NATIONAL)]
adj. extending over the whole nation.
native n. & adj. --n. 1 a (usu. foll. by of) a person born in a
specified place, or whose parents are domiciled in that place at
the time of the birth (a native of Bristol). b a local
inhabitant. 2 often offens. a a member of a non-White
indigenous people, as regarded by the colonial settlers. b
S.Afr. a Black person. 3 (usu. foll. by of) an indigenous
animal or plant. 4 an oyster reared in British waters, esp. in
artificial beds (a Whitstable native). 5 Austral. a White
person born in Australia. --adj. 1 (usu. foll. by to)
belonging to a person or thing by nature; inherent; innate
(spoke with the facility native to him). 2 of one's birth or
birthplace (native dress; native country). 3 belonging to one
by right of birth. 4 (usu. foll. by to) belonging to a
specified place (the anteater is native to S. America). 5 a
(esp. of a non-European) indigenous; born in a place. b of the
natives of a place (native customs). 6 unadorned; simple;
artless. 7 Geol. (of metal etc.) found in a pure or uncombined
state. 8 Austral. & NZ resembling an animal or plant familiar
elsewhere (native rabbit). Ьgo native (of a settler) adopt the
local way of life, esp. in a non-European country. native bear
Austral. & NZ = KOALA. native rock rock in its original place.
ЬЬnatively adv. nativeness n. [ME (earlier as adj.) f. OF
natif -ive or L nativus f. nasci nat- be born]
nativism n. Philos. the doctrine of innate ideas. ЬЬnativist n.
nativity n. (pl. -ies) 1 (esp. the Nativity) a the birth of Christ. b
the festival of Christ's birth; Christmas. 2 a picture of the
Nativity. 3 birth. 4 the horoscope at a person's birth. 5 a
the birth of the Virgin Mary or St John the Baptist. b the
festival of the nativity of the Virgin (8 Sept.) or St John (24
June). Ьnativity play a play usu. performed by children at
Christmas dealing with the birth of Christ. [ME f. OF nativit‚
f. LL nativitas -tatis f. L (as NATIVE)]
NATO abbr. (also Nato) North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
natron n. a mineral form of hydrated sodium salts found in dried lake
beds. [F f. Sp. natrўn f. Arab. natrun f. Gk nitron NITRE]
NATSOPA abbr. (in the UK) National Society of Operative Printers,
Graphical and Media Personnel (orig. Printers and Assistants).
natter v. & n. colloq. --v.intr. 1 chatter idly. 2 grumble; talk
fretfully. --n. 1 aimless chatter. 2 grumbling talk.
ЬЬnatterer n. [orig. Sc., imit.]
n. a toad, Bufo calamita, with a bright yellow stripe down its
back, and moving by running not hopping. [perh. f. NATTER,
from its loud croak, + JACK(1)]
n. a soft shade of blue. [much used by J. M. Nattier, Fr.
painter d. 1766]
natty adj. (nattier, nattiest) colloq. 1 a smartly or neatly
dressed, dapper. b spruce; trim; smart (a natty blouse). 2
deft. ЬЬnattily adv. nattiness n. [orig. sl., perh. rel. to
natural adj. & n. --adj. 1 a existing in or caused by nature; not
artificial (natural landscape). b uncultivated; wild (existing
in its natural state). 2 in the course of nature; not
exceptional or miraculous (died of natural causes; a natural
occurrence). 3 (of human nature etc.) not surprising; to be
expected (natural for her to be upset). 4 a (of a person or a
person's behaviour) unaffected, easy, spontaneous. b (foll. by
to) spontaneous, easy (friendliness is natural to him). 5 a (of
qualities etc.) inherent; innate (a natural talent for music).
b (of a person) having such qualities (a natural linguist). 6
not disguised or altered (as by make-up etc.). 7 lifelike; as
if in nature (the portrait looked very natural). 8 likely by
its or their nature to be such (natural enemies; the natural
antithesis). 9 having a physical existence as opposed to what
is spiritual, intellectual, etc. (the natural world). 10 a
related by nature, out of wedlock, esp. in a specified manner
(her natural son). b illegitimate (a natural child). 11 based
on the innate moral sense; instinctive (natural justice). 12
Mus. a (of a note) not sharpened or flattened (B natural). b
(of a scale) not containing any sharps or flats. 13 not
enlightened or communicated by revelation (the natural man).
--n. 1 colloq. (usu. foll. by for) a person or thing naturally
suitable, adept, expert, etc. (a natural for the championship).
2 archaic a person mentally deficient from birth. 3 Mus. a a
sign (****) denoting a return to natural pitch after a sharp or
a flat. b a natural note. c a white key on a piano. 4 a Cards
a hand making 21 in the first deal in pontoon. b a throw of 7
or 11 at craps. 5 a pale fawn colour. Ьnatural-born having a
character or position by birth. natural childbirth Med.
childbirth with minimal medical or technological intervention.
natural classification a scientific classification according to
natural features. natural death death by age or disease, not by
accident, poison, violence, etc. natural food food without
preservatives etc. natural gas an inflammable mainly methane
gas found in the earth's crust, not manufactured. natural
historian a writer or expert on natural history. natural
history 1 the study of animals or plants esp. as set forth for
popular use. 2 an aggregate of the facts concerning the flora
and fauna etc. of a particular place or class (a natural history
of the Isle of Wight). natural key (or scale) Mus. a key or
scale having no sharps or flats, i.e. C major and A minor.
natural language a language that has developed naturally.
natural law 1 Philos. unchanging moral principles common to all
people by virtue of their nature as human beings. 2 a correct
statement of an invariable sequence between specified conditions
and a specified phenomenon. 3 the laws of nature; regularity in
nature (where they saw chance, we see natural law). natural
life the duration of one's life on earth. natural logarithm see
LOGARITHM. natural magic magic involving the supposed
invocation of impersonal spirits. natural note Mus. a note
that is neither sharp nor flat. natural numbers the integers 1,
2, 3, etc. natural philosopher archaic a physicist. natural
philosophy archaic physics. natural religion a religion based
on reason (opp. revealed religion); deism. natural resources
materials or conditions occurring in nature and capable of
economic exploitation. natural science the sciences used in the
study of the physical world, e.g. physics, chemistry, geology,
biology, botany. natural selection the Darwinian theory of the
survival and propagation of organisms best adapted to their
environment. natural theology the knowledge of God as gained by
the light of natural reason. natural uranium unenriched
uranium. natural virtues Philos. justice, prudence,
temperance, fortitude. natural year the time taken by one
revolution of the earth round the sun, 365 days 5 hours 48
minutes. ЬЬnaturalness n. [ME f. OF naturel f. L naturalis (as
n. 1 the theory or practice in art and literature of
representing nature, character, etc. realistically and in great
detail. 2 a Philos. a theory of the world that excludes the
supernatural or spiritual. b any moral or religious system
based on this theory. 3 action based on natural instincts. 4
indifference to conventions. [NATURAL, in Philos. after F
n. & adj. --n. 1 an expert in natural history. 2 a person who
believes in or practises naturalism. --adj. = NATURALISTIC.
adj. 1 imitating nature closely; lifelike. 2 of or according
to naturalism. 3 of natural history. ЬЬnaturalistically adv.
v. (also -ise) 1 tr. admit (a foreigner) to the citizenship of
a country. 2 tr. introduce (an animal, plant, etc.) into
another region so that it flourishes in the wild. 3 tr. adopt
(a foreign word, custom, etc.). 4 intr. become naturalized. 5
tr. Philos. exclude from the miraculous; explain
naturalistically. 6 tr. free from conventions; make natural. 7
tr. cause to appear natural. 8 intr. study natural history.
ЬЬnaturalization n. [F naturaliser (as NATURAL)]
naturally adv. 1 in a natural manner. 2 as a natural result. 3
(qualifying a whole sentence) as might be expected; of course.
nature n. 1 a thing's or person's innate or essential qualities or
character (not in their nature to be cruel; is the nature of
iron to rust). 2 (often Nature) a the physical power causing
all the phenomena of the material world (Nature is the best
physician). b these phenomena, including plants, animals,
landscape, etc. (nature gives him comfort). 3 a kind, sort, or
class (things of this nature). 4 = human nature. 5 a a
specified element of human character (the rational nature; our
animal nature). b a person of a specified character (even
strong natures quail). 6 a an uncultivated or wild area,
condition, community, etc. b the countryside, esp. when
picturesque. 7 inherent impulses determining character or
action. 8 heredity as an influence on or determinant of
personality (opp. NURTURE). 9 a living thing's vital functions
or needs (such a diet will not support nature). Ьagainst nature
unnatural; immoral. against (or contrary to) nature miraculous;
miraculously. back to nature returning to a pre-civilized or
natural state. by nature innately. from nature Art using
natural objects as models. human nature general human
characteristics, feelings, etc. in nature 1 actually existing.
2 anywhere; at all. in (or of) the nature of characteristically
resembling or belonging to the class of (the answer was in the
nature of an excuse). in a state of nature 1 in an uncivilized
or uncultivated state. 2 totally naked. 3 in an unregenerate
state. law of nature = natural law 2. nature cure =
NATUROPATHY. nature-printing a method of producing a print of
leaves etc. by pressing them on a prepared plate. nature
reserve a tract of land managed so as to preserve its flora,
fauna, physical features, etc. nature study the practical study
of plant and animal life etc. as a school subject. nature trail
a signposted path through the countryside designed to draw
attention to natural phenomena. [ME f. OF f. L natura f. nasci
nat- be born]
natured adj. (in comb.) having a specified disposition (good-natured;
naturism n. 1 nudism. 2 naturalism in regard to religion. 3 the
worship of natural objects. ЬЬnaturist n.
n. 1 the treatment of disease etc. without drugs, usu.
involving diet, exercise, massage, etc. 2 this regimen used
preventively. ЬЬnaturopath n. naturopathic adj.
naught n. & adj. --n. 1 archaic or literary nothing, nought. 2 US =
NOUGHT. --adj. (usu. predic.) archaic or literary worthless;
useless. Ьbring to naught ruin; baffle. come to naught be
ruined or baffled. set at naught disregard; despise. [OE
nawiht, -wuht f. na (see NO(2)) + wiht WIGHT]
naughty adj. (naughtier, naughtiest) 1 (esp. of children) disobedient;
badly behaved. 2 colloq. joc. indecent. 3 archaic wicked.
ЬЬnaughtily adv. naughtiness n. [ME f. NAUGHT + -Y(1)]
nauplius n. (pl. nauplii) the first larval stage of some crustaceans.
[L, = a kind of shellfish, or f. Gk Nauplios son of Poseidon]
nausea n. 1 a feeling of sickness with an inclination to vomit. 2
loathing; revulsion. [L f. Gk nausia f. naus ship]
nauseate v. 1 tr. affect with nausea (was nauseated by the smell). 2
intr. (usu. foll. by at) loathe food, an occupation, etc.; feel
sick. ЬЬnauseating adj. nauseatingly adv. [L nauseare (as
nauseous adj. 1 causing nausea. 2 offensive to the taste or smell. 3
disgusting; loathsome. ЬЬnauseously adv. nauseousness n. [L
nauseosus (as NAUSEA)]
nautch n. a performance of professional Indian dancing-girls.
Ьnautch-girl a professional Indian dancing-girl. [Urdu (Hindi)
nach f. Prakrit nachcha f. Skr. nritja dancing]
nautical adj. of or concerning sailors or navigation; naval; maritime.
Ьnautical almanac a yearbook containing astronomical and tidal
information for navigators etc. nautical mile a unit of approx.
2,025 yards (1,852 metres): also called sea mile. ЬЬnautically
adv. [F nautique or f. L nauticus f. Gk nautikos f. nautes
sailor f. naus ship]
nautilus n. (pl. nautiluses or nautili) 1 any cephalopod of the genus
Nautilus with a light brittle spiral shell, esp. (pearly
nautilus) one having a chambered shell with nacreous septa. 2
(in full paper nautilus) any small floating octopus of the genus
Argonauta, of which the female has a very thin shell and webbed
sail-like arms. [L f. Gk nautilos, lit. sailor (as NAUTICAL)]
Navajo n. (also Navaho) (pl. -os) 1 a member of an American Indian
people native to New Mexico and Arizona. 2 the language of this
people. [Sp., = pueblo]
naval adj. 1 of, in, for, etc. the navy or a navy. 2 of or
concerning ships (a naval battle). Ьnaval academy a college for
training naval officers. naval architect a designer of ships.
naval architecture the designing of ships. naval officer an
officer in a navy. naval stores all materials used in shipping.
ЬЬnavally adv. [L navalis f. navis ship]
navarin n. a casserole of mutton or lamb with vegetables. [F]
nave(1) n. the central part of a church, usu. from the west door to the
chancel and excluding the side aisles. [med.L navis f. L navis
nave(2) n. the hub of a wheel. [OE nafu, nafa f. Gmc, rel. to NAVEL]
navel n. 1 a depression in the centre of the belly caused by the
detachment of the umbilical cord. 2 a central point. Ьnavel
orange a large seedless orange with a navel-like formation at
the top. [OE nafela f. Gmc, rel. to NAVE(2)]
navelwort n. a pennywort.
navicular adj. & n. --adj. boat-shaped. --n. (in full navicular bone) a
boat-shaped bone in the foot or hand. Ьnavicular disease an
inflammatory disease of the navicular bone in horses, causing
lameness. [F naviculaire or LL navicularis f. L navicula dimin.
of navis ship]
navigable adj. 1 (of a river, the sea, etc.) affording a passage for
ships. 2 (of a ship etc.) seaworthy (in navigable condition).
3 (of a balloon, airship, etc.) steerable. ЬЬnavigability n.
[F navigable or L navigabilis (as NAVIGATE)]
navigate v. 1 tr. manage or direct the course of (a ship, aircraft,
etc.). 2 tr. a sail on (a sea, river, etc.). b travel or fly
through (the air). 3 intr. (of a passenger in a vehicle) assist
the driver by map-reading etc. 4 intr. sail a ship; sail in a
ship. 5 tr. (often refl.) colloq. steer (oneself, a course,
etc.) through a crowd etc. [L navigare f. navis ship + agere
n. 1 the act or process of navigating. 2 any of several
methods of determining or planning a ship's or aircraft's
position and course by geometry, astronomy, etc. 3 a voyage.
Ьinland navigation communication by canals and rivers.
navigation light a light on a ship or aircraft at night,
indicating its position and direction. ЬЬnavigational adj. [F
or f. L navigatio (as NAVIGATE)]
navigator n. 1 a person skilled or engaged in navigation. 2 an explorer
by sea. [L (as NAVIGATE)]
navvy n. & v. Brit. --n. (pl. -ies) a labourer employed in
building or excavating roads, canals, etc. --v.intr. (-ies,
-ied) work as a navvy. [abbr. of NAVIGATOR]
navy n. (pl. -ies) 1 (often the Navy) a the whole body of a State's
ships of war, including crews, maintenance systems, etc. b the
officers and men of a navy. 2 (in full navy blue) a dark-blue
colour as used in naval uniform. 3 poet. a fleet of ships.
ЬNavy Department US the government department in charge of the
navy. Navy List Brit. an official list containing the names of
all naval officers etc. navy yard US a government shipyard with
civilian labour. [ME, = fleet f. OF navie ship, fleet f. Rmc &
pop.L navia ship f. L navis]
nawab n. 1 the title of a distinguished Muslim in Pakistan. 2 hist.
the title of a governor or nobleman in India. [Urdu nawwab pl.
f. Arab. na' ib deputy: cf. NABOB]
nay adv. & n. --adv. 1 or rather; and even; and more than that
(impressive, nay, magnificent). 2 archaic = NO(2) adv. 1.
--n. 1 the word 'nay'. 2 a negative vote (counted 16 nays).
[ME f. ON nei f. ne not + ei AYE(2)]
naysay v. (3rd sing. present -says; past and past part. -said) esp.
US 1 intr. utter a denial or refusal. 2 tr. refuse or
contradict. ЬЬnaysayer n.
Nazarene n. & adj. --n. 1 a (prec. by the) Christ. b (esp. in Jewish
or Muslim use) a Christian. 2 a native or inhabitant of
Nazareth. 3 a member of an early Jewish-Christian sect. --adj.
of or concerning Nazareth, the Nazarenes, etc. [ME f. LL
Nazarenus f. Gk Nazarenos f. Nazaret Nazareth]
Nazarite n. (also Nazirite) hist. a Hebrew who had taken certain vows
of abstinence; an ascetic (Num. 6). [LL Nazaraeus f. Heb.
nazir f. nazar to separate or consecrate oneself]
Nazi n. & adj. --n. (pl. Nazis) 1 hist. a member of the German
National Socialist party. 2 derog. a person holding extreme
racist or authoritarian views or behaving brutally. 3 a person
belonging to any organization similar to the Nazis. --adj. of
or concerning the Nazis, Nazism, etc. ЬЬNazidom n. Nazify
v.tr. (-ies, -ied). Naziism n. Nazism n. [repr. pronunc. of
Nati- in G Nationalsozialist]
n‚ adj. born (indicating a man's previous name) (Lord
Beaconsfield, n‚ Benjamin Disraeli). [F, past part. of naЊtre
be born: cf. NђE]
adj. of or belonging to the type of human widely distributed in
palaeolithic Europe, with a retreating forehead and massive
brow-ridges. [Neanderthal, a region in W. Germany where remains
neap n. & v. --n. (in full neap tide) a tide just after the first
and third quarters of the moon when there is least difference
between high and low water. --v. 1 intr. (of a tide) tend
towards or reach the highest point of a neap tide. 2 tr. (in
passive) (of a ship) be kept aground, in harbour, etc., by a
neap tide. [OE nepflod (cf. FLOOD), of unkn. orig.]
n. & adj. --n. a native or citizen of Naples in Italy. --adj.
of or relating to Naples. ЬNeapolitan ice-cream ice-cream made
in layers of different colours. Neapolitan violet a
sweet-scented double viola. [ME f. L Neapolitanus f. L Neapolis
Naples f. Gk f. neos new + polis city]
near adv., prep., adj., & v. --adv. 1 (often foll. by to) to or at
a short distance in space or time; close by (the time drew near;
dropped near to them). 2 closely (as near as one can guess). 3
archaic almost, nearly (very near died). 4 archaic
parsimoniously; meanly (lives very near). --prep. (compar. &
superl. also used) 1 to or at a short distance (in space, time,
condition, or resemblance) from (stood near the back; occurs
nearer the end; the sun is near setting). 2 (in comb.) a that
is almost (near-hysterical; a near-Communist). b intended as a
substitute for; resembling (near-beer). --adj. 1 (usu.
predic.) close at hand; close to, in place or time (the man
nearest you; in the near future). 2 a closely related (a near
relation). b intimate (a near friend). 3 (of a part of a
vehicle, animal, or road) left (the near fore leg; near side
front wheel (orig. of the side from which one mounted)) (opp.
OFF). 4 close; narrow (a near escape; a near guess). 5 (of a
road or way) direct. 6 niggardly, mean. --v. 1 tr. approach;
draw near to (neared the harbour). 2 intr. draw near (could
distinguish them as they neared). Ьcome (or go) near (foll. by
verbal noun, or to + verbal noun) be on the point of, almost
succeed in (came near to falling). go near (foll. by to +
infin.) narrowly fail. near at hand 1 within easy reach. 2 in
the immediate future. the Near East the region comprising the
countries of the eastern Mediterranean. Near Eastern of the
Near East. near go colloq. a narrow escape. near the knuckle
colloq. verging on the indecent. near miss 1 (of a bomb etc.)
close to the target. 2 a situation in which a collision is
narrowly avoided. 3 (of an attempt) almost but not quite
successful. near sight esp. US = short sight. near thing a
narrow escape. near upon archaic not far in time from.
ЬЬnearish adj. nearness n. [ME f. ON n‘r, orig. compar. of n
= OE neah NIGH]
nearby adj. & adv. --adj. situated in a near position (a nearby
hotel). --adv. close; not far away.
Nearctic adj. of or relating to the Arctic and the temperate parts of N.
America as a zoogeographical region. [NEO- + ARCTIC]
nearly adv. 1 almost (we are nearly there). 2 closely (they are
nearly related). Ьnot nearly nothing like; far from (not nearly
nearside n. (often attrib.) esp. Brit. the left side of a vehicle,
animal, etc. (cf. OFFSIDE n.).
n. esp. US = SHORT-SIGHTED. ЬЬnear-sightedly adv.
neat(1) adj. 1 tidy and methodical. 2 elegantly simple in form etc.;
well-proportioned. 3 (of language, style, etc.) brief, clear,
and pointed; epigrammatic. 4 a cleverly executed (a neat piece
of work). b deft; dextrous. 5 (of esp. alcoholic liquor)
undiluted. 6 US sl. (as a general term of approval) good,
pleasing, excellent. ЬЬneatly adv. neatness n. [F net f. L
nitidus shining f. nitere shine]
neat(2) n. archaic 1 a bovine animal. 2 (as pl.) cattle. Ьneat's-foot
oil oil made from boiled cow-heel and used to dress leather.
[OE neat f. Gmc]
neaten v.tr. make neat.
neath prep. poet. beneath. [BENEATH]
NEB abbr. 1 (in the UK) National Enterprise Board. 2 New English
Neb. abbr. Nebraska.
neb n. Sc. & N.Engl. 1 a beak or bill. 2 a nose; a snout. 3 a
tip, spout, or point. [OE nebb ult. f. Gmc: cf. NIB]
nebbish n. & adj. colloq. --n. a submissive or timid person. --adj.
submissive; timid. [Yiddish nebach poor thing!]
Nebr. abbr. Nebraska.
n. a wine bottle of about 20 times the standard size. [name of
a king of Babylon (6th c. BC)]
nebula n. (pl. nebulae or nebulas) 1 Astron. a a cloud of gas and
dust, sometimes glowing and sometimes appearing as a dark
silhouette against other glowing matter. b a bright area caused
by a galaxy, or a large cloud of distant stars. 2 Med. a
clouded spot on the cornea causing defective vision. [L, =
nebular adj. of or relating to a nebula or nebulae. Ьnebular theory
(or hypothesis) the theory that the solar and stellar systems
were developed from a primeval nebula.
nebulous adj. 1 cloudlike. 2 a formless, clouded. b hazy, indistinct,
vague (put forward a few nebulous ideas). 3 Astron. of or like
a nebula or nebulae. Ьnebulous star a small cluster of
indistinct stars, or a star in a luminous haze. ЬЬnebulosity n.
nebulously adv. nebulousness n. [ME f. F n‚buleux or L
nebulosus (as NEBULA)]
nebuly adj. Heraldry wavy in form; cloudlike. [F n‚bul‚ f. med.L
nebulatus f. L NEBULA]
n. & adj. = NECESSITARIAN. ЬЬnecessarianism n.
adv. as a necessary result; inevitably.
necessary adj. & n. --adj. 1 requiring to be done, achieved, etc.;
requisite, essential (it is necessary to work; lacks the
necessary documents). 2 determined, existing, or happening by
natural laws, predestination, etc., not by free will; inevitable
(a necessary evil). 3 Philos. (of a concept or a mental
process) inevitably resulting from or produced by the nature of
things etc., so that the contrary is impossible. 4 Philos. (of
an agent) having no independent volition. --n. (pl. -ies)
(usu. in pl.) any of the basic requirements of life, such as
food, warmth, etc. Ьthe necessary colloq. 1 money. 2 an
action, item, etc., needed for a purpose (they will do the
necessary). [ME f. OF necessaire f. L necessarius f. necesse
n. & adj. Philos. --n. a person who holds that all action is
predetermined and free will is impossible. --adj. of or
concerning such a person or theory (opp. LIBERTARIAN).
v.tr. 1 make necessary (esp. as a result) (will necessitate
some sacrifice). 2 US (usu. foll. by to + infin.) force or
compel (a person) to do something. [med.L necessitare compel
adj. poor; needy. [F n‚cessiteux or f. NECESSITY + -OUS]
necessity n. (pl. -ies) 1 a an indispensible thing; a necessary (central
heating is a necessity). b (usu. foll. by of) indispensability
(the necessity of a warm overcoat). 2 a state of things or
circumstances enforcing a certain course (there was a necessity
to hurry). 3 imperative need (necessity is the mother of
invention). 4 want; poverty; hardship (stole because of
necessity). 5 constraint or compulsion regarded as a natural
law governing all human action. Ьof necessity unavoidably. [ME
f. OF necessit‚ f. L necessitas -tatis f. necesse needful]
neck n. & v. --n. 1 a the part of the body connecting the head to
the shoulders. b the part of a shirt, dress, etc. round or
close to the neck. 2 a something resembling a neck, such as the
narrow part of a cavity or vessel, a passage, channel, pass,
isthmus, etc. b the narrow part of a bottle near the mouth. 3
the part of a violin etc. bearing the finger-board. 4 the
length of a horse's head and neck as a measure of its lead in a
race. 5 the flesh of an animal's neck (neck of lamb). 6 Geol.
solidified lava or igneous rock in an old volcano crater or
pipe. 7 Archit. the lower part of a capital. 8 sl. impudence
(you've got a neck, asking that). --v. 1 intr. & tr. colloq.
kiss and caress amorously. 2 a tr. form a narrowed part in. b
intr. form a narrowed part. Ьget it in the neck colloq. 1
receive a severe reprimand or punishment. 2 suffer a fatal or
severe blow. neck and neck running level in a race etc. neck
of the woods colloq. a usu. remote locality. neck or nothing
risking everything on success. up to one's neck (often foll. by
in) colloq. very deeply involved; very busy. ЬЬnecked adj.
(also in comb.). necker n. (in sense 1 of v.). neckless adj.
[OE hnecca ult. f. Gmc]
neckband n. a strip of material round the neck of a garment.
neckcloth n. hist. a cravat.
n. a square of cloth worn round the neck.
necking n. Archit. = NECK n. 7.
necklace n. & v. --n. 1 a chain or string of beads, precious stones,
links, etc., worn as an ornament round the neck. 2 S.Afr. a
tyre soaked or filled with petrol, placed round a victim's neck,
and set alight. --v.tr. S.Afr. kill with a 'necklace'.
necklet n. 1 = NECKLACE n. 1. 2 a strip of fur worn round the neck.
neckline n. the edge or shape of the opening of a garment at the neck (a
necktie n. esp. US = TIE n. 2. Ьnecktie party sl. a lynching or
neckwear n. collars, ties, etc.
necro- comb. form corpse. [from or after Gk nekro- f. nekros corpse]
n. decay in the tissues of the body, esp. swelling of the
collagen bundles in the dermis. ЬЬnecrobiotic adj.
n. worship of, or excessive reverence towards, the dead.
necrology n. (pl. -ies) 1 a list of recently dead people. 2 an obituary
notice. ЬЬnecrological adj.
n. 1 the prediction of the future by the supposed communication
with the dead. 2 witchcraft. ЬЬnecromancer n. necromantic
adj. [ME f. OF nigromancie f. med.L nigromantia changed (by
assoc. with L niger nigri black) f. LL necromantia f. Gk
nekromanteia (as NECRO-, -MANCY)]
n. (also necrophily) a morbid and esp. erotic attraction to
corpses. ЬЬnecrophil n. necrophile n. necrophiliac n.
necrophilic adj. necrophilism n. necrophilist n. [NECRO- + Gk
n. an abnormal fear of death or dead bodies.
n. an ancient cemetery or burial place.
necropsy n. (also necroscopy) (pl. -ies) = AUTOPSY 1. [NECRO- after
AUTOPSY, or + -SCOPY]
necrosis n. Med. & Physiol. the death of tissue caused by disease or
injury, esp. as one of the symptoms of gangrene or pulmonary
tuberculosis. ЬЬnecrose v.intr. necrotic adj. necrotize
v.intr. (also -ise). [mod.L f. Gk nekrosis (as NECRO-, -OSIS)]
nectar n. 1 a sugary substance produced by plants and made into honey
by bees. 2 (in Greek and Roman mythology) the drink of the
gods. 3 a drink compared to this. ЬЬnectarean adj. nectareous
adj. nectariferous adj. nectarous adj. [L f. Gk nektar]
nectarine n. 1 a variety of peach with a thin brightly-coloured smooth
skin and firm flesh. 2 the tree bearing this. [orig. as adj.,
= nectar-like, f. NECTAR + -INE(4)]
nectary n. (pl. -ies) the nectar-secreting organ of a flower or plant.
[mod.L nectarium (as NECTAR)]
NEDC abbr. (in the UK) National Economic Development Council.
neddy n. (pl. -ies) colloq. 1 a donkey. 2 (Neddy) = NEDC. [dimin.
of Ned, pet-form of the name Edward]
n‚e adj. (US nee) (used in adding a married woman's maiden name
after her surname) born (Mrs Ann Smith, n‚e Jones ). [F, fem.
past part. of naЊtre be born]
need v. & n. --v. 1 tr. stand in want of; require (needs a new
coat). 2 tr. (foll. by to + infin.; 3rd sing. present neg. or
interrog. need without to) be under the necessity or obligation
(it needs to be done carefully; he need not come; need you
ask?). 3 intr. archaic be necessary. --n. 1 a a want or
requirement (my needs are few; the need for greater freedom). b
a thing wanted (my greatest need is a car). 2 circumstances
requiring some course of action; necessity (there is no need to
worry; if need arise). 3 destitution; poverty. 4 a crisis; an
emergency (failed them in their need). Ьat need in time of
need. had need archaic ought to (had need remember). have need
of require; want. have need to require to (has need to be
warned). in need requiring help. in need of requiring. need
not have did not need to (but did). [OE neodian, ned f. Gmc]
needful adj. 1 requisite; necessary; indispensable. 2 (prec. by the) a
what is necessary. b colloq. money or action needed for a
purpose. ЬЬneedfully adv. needfulness n.
needle n. & v. --n. 1 a a very thin small piece of smooth steel etc.
pointed at one end and with a slit (eye) for thread at the
other, used in sewing. b a larger plastic, wooden, etc. slender
stick without an eye, used in knitting. c a slender hooked
stick used in crochet. 2 a pointer on a dial (see magnetic
needle). 3 any of several small thin pointed instruments, esp.:
a a surgical instrument for stitching. b the end of a
hypodermic syringe. c = STYLUS. d an etching tool. e a steel
pin exploding the cartridge of a breech-loading gun. 4 a an
obelisk (Cleopatra's Needle). b a pointed rock or peak. 5 the
leaf of a fir or pine tree. 6 a beam used as a temporary
support during underpinning. 7 Brit. sl. a fit of bad temper
or nervousness (got the needle while waiting). --v.tr. 1
colloq. incite or irritate; provoke (the silence needled him).
2 sew, pierce, or operate on with a needle. Ьneedle game (or
match etc.) Brit. a contest that is very close or arouses
personal grudges. needle in a haystack something almost
impossible to find because it is concealed by so many other
things etc. needle-lace lace made with needles not bobbins.
needle-point 1 a very sharp point. 2 = needle-lace. 3 = GROS
or petit point. needle's eye (or eye of a needle) the least
possible aperture, esp. with ref. to Matt. 19:24. needle time
an agreed maximum allowance of time for broadcasting music from
records. needle valve a valve closed by a thin tapering part.
[OE n‘dl f. Gmc]
n. a fine-ribbed corduroy fabric.
n. skill in needlework.
n. a garfish.
needleful n. (pl. -fuls) the length of thread etc. put into a needle at
needless adj. 1 unnecessary. 2 uncalled for; gratuitous. Ьneedless to
say of course; it goes without saying. ЬЬneedlessly adv.
n. (pl. -women) 1 a seamstress. 2 a woman or girl with
specified sewing skill (a good needlewoman).
n. sewing or embroidery.
needs adv. archaic (usu. prec. or foll. by must) of necessity (must
needs decide). [OE nedes (as NEED, -S(3))]
needy adj. (needier, neediest) 1 (of a person) poor; destitute. 2
(of circumstances) characterized by poverty. ЬЬneediness n.
neep n. Sc. & N.Engl. a turnip. [OE n‘p f. L napus]
ne'er adv. poet. = NEVER. Ьne'er-do-well n. a good-for-nothing
person. --adj. good-for-nothing. [ME contr. of NEVER]
nefarious adj. wicked; iniquitous. ЬЬnefariously adv. nefariousness n.
[L nefarius f. nefas wrong f. ne- not + fas divine law]
neg. abbr. negative.
negate v.tr. 1 nullify; invalidate. 2 imply, involve, or assert the
non-existence of. 3 be the negation of. ЬЬnegator n. [L
negare negat- deny]
negation n. 1 the absence or opposite of something actual or positive.
2 a the act of denying. b an instance of this. 3 (usu. foll.
by of) a refusal, contradiction, or denial. 4 a negative
statement or doctrine. 5 a negative or unreal thing; a
nonentity. 6 Logic the assertion that a certain proposition is
false. ЬЬnegatory adj. [F negation or L negatio (as NEGATE)]
negative adj., n. & v. --adj. 1 expressing or implying denial,
prohibition, or refusal (a negative vote; a negative answer). 2
(of a person or attitude): a lacking positive attributes;
apathetic; pessimistic. b opposing or resisting; uncooperative.
3 marked by the absence of qualities (a negative reaction; a
negative result from the test). 4 of the opposite nature to a
thing regarded as positive (debt is negative capital). 5
Algebra (of a quantity) less than zero, to be subtracted from
others or from zero (opp. POSITIVE). 6 Electr. a of the kind
of charge carried by electrons (opp. POSITIVE). b containing
or producing such a charge. --n. 1 a negative statement,
reply, or word (hard to prove a negative). 2 Photog. a an
image with black and white reversed or colours replaced by
complementary ones, from which positive pictures are obtained.
b a developed film or plate bearing such an image. 3 a negative
quality; an absence of something. 4 (prec. by the) a position
opposing the affirmative. 5 Logic = NEGATION 6. --v.tr. 1
refuse to accept or countenance; veto; reject. 2 disprove (an
inference or hypothesis). 3 contradict (a statement). 4
neutralize (an effect). Ьin the negative with negative effect;
so as to reject a proposal etc.; no (the answer was in the
negative). negative evidence (or instance) evidence of the
non-occurrence of something. negative feedback 1 the return of
part of an output signal to the input, tending to decrease the
amplification etc. 2 feedback that tends to diminish or
counteract the process giving rise to it. negative geotropism
see GEOTROPISM. negative income tax an amount credited as
allowance to a taxed income, and paid as benefit when it exceeds
debited tax. negative pole the south-seeking pole of a magnet.
negative proposition Logic = NEGATION 6. negative quantity joc.
nothing. negative sign a symbol (-) indicating subtraction or a
value less than zero. negative virtue abstention from vice.
ЬЬnegatively adv. negativeness n. negativity n. [ME f. OF
negatif -ive or LL negativus (as NEGATE)]
n. 1 a negative position or attitude; extreme scepticism,
criticism, etc. 2 denial of accepted beliefs. ЬЬnegativist n.
neglect v. & n. --v.tr. 1 fail to care for or to do; be remiss about
(neglected their duty; neglected his children). 2 (foll. by
verbal noun, or to + infin.) fail; overlook or forget the need
to (neglected to inform them; neglected telling them). 3 not
pay attention to; disregard (neglected the obvious warning).
--n. 1 lack of caring; negligence (the house suffered from
neglect). 2 a the act of neglecting. b the state of being
neglected (the house fell into neglect). 3 (usu. foll. by of)
disregard. ЬЬneglectful adj. neglectfully adv. neglectfulness
n. [L neglegere neglect- f. neg- not + legere choose, pick up]
neglig‚e n. (also negligee, n‚glig‚) 1 (usu. negligee) a woman's
dressing-gown of thin fabric. 2 unceremonious or informal
attire. [F, past part. of n‚gliger NEGLECT]
n. 1 a a lack of proper care and attention; carelessness. b an
act of carelessness. 2 Law = contributory negligence. 3 Art
freedom from restraint or artificiality. ЬЬnegligent adj.
negligently adv. [ME f. OF negligence or L negligentia f.
negligere = neglegere: see NEGLECT]
adj. not worth considering; insignificant. Ьnegligible
quantity a person etc. that need not be considered.
ЬЬnegligibility n. negligibly adv. [obs. F f. n‚gliger
adj. 1 open to discussion or modification. 2 able to be
negotiated. ЬЬnegotiability n.
negotiate v. 1 intr. (usu. foll. by with) confer with others in order to
reach a compromise or agreement. 2 tr. arrange (an affair) or
bring about (a result) by negotiating (negotiated a settlement).
3 tr. find a way over, through, etc. (an obstacle, difficulty,
fence, etc.). 4 tr. a transfer (a cheque etc.) to another for
a consideration. b convert (a cheque etc.) into cash or notes.
c get or give value for (a cheque etc.) in money. ЬЬnegotiant
n. negotiation n. negotiator n. [L negotiari f. negotium
business f. neg- not + otium leisure]
Negress n. a female Negro.
Negrillo n. (pl. -os) a member of a very small Negroid people native to
Central and S. Africa. [Sp., dimin. of NEGRO]
Negrito n. (pl. -os) a member of a small Negroid people native to the
Malayo-Polynesian region. [as NEGRILLO]
Negritude n. 1 the quality or state of being a Negro. 2 the affirmation
or consciousness of the value of Negro culture. [F n‚gritude
Negro n. & adj. --n. (pl. -oes) a member of a dark-skinned race
orig. native to Africa. °Now often considered offens.; the term
Black is usually preferred. --adj. 1 of or concerning Negroes.
2 (as negro) Zool. black or dark (negro ant). ЬNegro spiritual
a religious song derived from the musical traditions of Black
people in the southern US. [Sp. & Port., f. L niger nigri
Negroid adj. & n. --adj. 1 (of features etc.) characterizing a member
of the Negro race, esp. in having dark skin, tightly curled
hair, and a broad flattish nose. 2 of or concerning Negroes.
--n. a Negro. [NEGRO]
Negus n. hist. the title of the ruler of Ethiopia. [Amh. n' gus
negus n. hist. a hot drink of port, sugar, lemon, and spice. [Col.
F. Negus d. 1732, its inventor]
Neh. abbr. Nehemiah (Old Testament).
neigh n. & v. --n. 1 the high whinnying sound of a horse. 2 any
similar sound, e.g. a laugh. --v. 1 intr. make such a sound.
2 tr. say, cry, etc. with such a sound. [OE hn‘gan, of imit.
neighbour n. & v. (US neighbor) --n. 1 a person living next door to or
near or nearest another (my next-door neighbour; his nearest
neighbour is 12 miles away; they are neighbours). 2 a a person
regarded as having the duties or claims of friendliness,
consideration, etc., of a neighbour. b a fellow human being,
esp. as having claims on friendship. 3 a person or thing near
or next to another (my neighbour at dinner). 4 (attrib.)
neighbouring. --v. 1 tr. border on; adjoin. 2 intr. (often
foll. by on, upon) border; adjoin. ЬЬneighbouring adj.
neighbourless adj. neighbourship n. [OE neahgebur (as NIGH:
gebur, cf. BOOR)]
n. (US neighborhood) 1 a a district, esp. one forming a
community within a town or city. b the people of a district;
one's neighbours. 2 neighbourly feeling or conduct. Ьin the
neighbourhood of roughly; about (paid in the neighbourhood of
њ100). neighbourhood watch systematic local vigilance by
householders to discourage crime, esp. against property.
adj. (US neighborly) characteristic of a good neighbour;
friendly; kind. ЬЬneighbourliness n.
neither adj., pron., adv., & conj. --adj. & pron. (foll. by sing. verb)
1 not the one nor the other (of two things); not either (neither
of the accusations is true; neither of them knows; neither wish
was granted; neither went to the fair). 2 disp. none of any
number of specified things. --adv. 1 not either; not on the
one hand (foll. by nor; introducing the first of two or more
things in the negative: neither knowing nor caring; would
neither come in nor go out; neither the teachers nor the parents
nor the children). 2 not either; also not (if you do not,
neither shall I). 3 (with neg.) disp. either (I don't know that
neither). --conj. archaic nor yet; nor (I know not, neither
can I guess). [ME naither, neither f. OE nowther contr. of
nohw‘ther (as NO(2), WHETHER): assim. to EITHER]
nek n. S.Afr. = COL 1. [Du., = NECK]
nekton n. Zool. any aquatic animal able to swim and move
independently. [G f. Gk nekton neut. of nektos swimming f.
nelly n. (pl. -ies) a silly or effeminate person. Ьnot on your
nelly Brit. sl. certainly not. [perh. f. the name Nelly:
idiom f. rhyming sl. Nelly Duff = puff = breath: cf. not on
nelson n. a wrestling-hold in which one arm is passed under the
opponent's arm from behind and the hand is applied to the neck
(half nelson), or both arms and hands are applied (full nelson).
[app. f. the name Nelson]
nelumbo n. (pl. -os) any water lily of the genus Nelumbo, native to
India and China, bearing small pink flowers. Also called LOTUS.
[mod.L f. Sinh. nelum(bu)]
n. a specialized cell in a jellyfish etc. containing a coiled
thread that can be projected as a sting. [as NEMATODE + CYST]
nematode n. any parasitic or free-living worm of the phylum Nematoda,
with a slender unsegmented cylindrical shape. Also called
ROUNDWORM. [Gk nema -matos thread + -ODE(1)]
Nembutal n. propr. a sodium salt of pentobarbitone, used as a sedative
and anticonvulsant. [Na (= sodium) + 5- ethyl-5-(1- methyl
butyl) barbiturate + -AL]
nem. con. abbr. with no one dissenting. [L nemine contradicente]
nemertean n. & adj. (also nemertine) --n. any marine ribbon worm of the
phylum Nemertea, often very long and brightly coloured, found in
tangled knots in coastal waters of Europe and the Mediterranean.
--adj. of or relating to this class. [mod.L Nemertes f. Gk
Nemertes name of a sea nymph]
nemesia n. any S. African plant of the genus Nemesia, cultivated for
its variously coloured and irregular flowers. [mod.L f. Gk
nemesion, the name of a similar plant]
nemesis n. (pl. nemeses) 1 retributive justice. 2 a a downfall caused
by this. b an agent of such a downfall. [Gk, = righteous
indignation, personified as goddess of retribution f. nemo give
what is due]
neo- comb. form 1 new, modern. 2 a new or revived form of. [Gk f.
adj. (also neoclassic) of or relating to a revival of a
classical style or treatment in art, literature, music, etc.
ЬЬneoclassicism n. neoclassicist n.
n. the use of economic, political, or other pressures to
control or influence other countries, esp. former dependencies.
ЬЬneocolonialist n. & adj.
neodymium n. Chem. a silver-grey naturally-occurring metallic element of
the lanthanide series used in colouring glass etc. °Symb.: Nd.
[NEO- + DIDYMIUM]
neolithic adj. of or relating to the later Stone Age, when ground or
polished stone weapons and implements prevailed. [NEO- + Gk
neologism n. 1 a new word or expression. 2 the coining or use of new
words. ЬЬneologist n. neologize v.intr. (also -ise). [F
n‚ologisme (as NEO-, -LOGY, -ISM)]
neomycin n. an antibiotic related to streptomycin.
neon n. Chem. an inert gaseous element occurring in traces in the
atmosphere and giving an orange glow when electricity is passed
through it in a sealed low-pressure tube, used in lights and
illuminated advertisements (neon light; neon sign). °Symb.: Ne.
[Gk, neut. of neos new]
neonate n. a newborn child. ЬЬneonatal adj. [mod.L neonatus (as NEO-,
L nasci nat- be born)]
neophyte n. 1 a new convert, esp. to a religious faith. 2 RC Ch. a a
novice of a religious order. b a newly ordained priest. 3 a
beginner; a novice. [eccl.L neophytus f. NT Gk neophutos newly
planted (as NEO- phuton plant)]
neoplasm n. a new and abnormal growth of tissue in some part of the
body, esp. a tumour. ЬЬneoplastic adj. [NEO- + Gk plasma
formation: see PLASMA]
n. a philosophical and religious system developed by the
followers of Plotinus in the third c., combining Platonic
thought with oriental mysticism. ЬЬNeoplatonic adj.
neoprene n. a synthetic rubber-like polymer. [NEO- + chloroprene etc.
(perh. f. PROPYL + -ENE)]
neoteny n. the retention of juvenile features in the adult form of some
animals, e.g. an axolotl. ЬЬneotenic adj. neotenous adj. [G
Neotenie (as NEO- + Gk teino extend)]
neoteric adj. literary recent; newfangled; modern. [LL neotericus f. Gk
neoterikos (neoteros compar. of neos new)]
adj. of or relating to tropical and S. America as a
Nepalese adj. & n. (pl. same) = NEPALI.
Nepali n. & adj. --n. (pl. same or Nepalis) 1 a a native or national
of Nepal in Central Asia. b a person of Nepali descent. 2 the
language of Nepal. --adj. of or relating to Nepal or its
language or people.
nepenthe n. = NEPENTHES 1. [var. of NEPENTHES, after It. nepente]
nepenthes n. 1 poet. a drug causing forgetfulness of grief. 2 any
pitcher-plant of the genus Nepenthes. [L f. Gk nepenthes
(pharmakon drug), neut. of nepenthes f. ne- not + penthos
nephew n. a son of one's brother or sister, or of one's brother-in-law
or sister-in-law. [ME f. OF neveu f. L nepos nepotis grandson,
nephology n. the study of clouds. [Gk nephos cloud + -LOGY]
nephrite n. a green, yellow, or white calcium magnesium silicate form of
jade. [G Nephrit f. Gk nephros kidney, with ref. to its
supposed efficacy in treating kidney disease]
nephritic adj. 1 of or in the kidneys; renal. 2 of or relating to
nephritis. [LL nephriticus f. Gk nephritikos (as NEPHRITIS)]
nephritis n. inflammation of the kidneys. Also called Bright's disease.
[LL f. Gk nephros kidney]
nephro- comb. form (usu. nephr- before a vowel) kidney. [Gk f.
ne plus ultra
n. 1 the furthest attainable point. 2 the culmination, acme,
or perfection. [L, = not further beyond, the supposed
inscription on the Pillars of Hercules (the Strait of Gibraltar)
prohibiting passage by ships]
nepotism n. favouritism shown to relatives in conferring offices or
privileges. ЬЬnepotist n. nepotistic adj. [F n‚potisme f. It.
nepotismo f. nepote NEPHEW: orig. with ref. to popes with
illegitimate sons called nephews]
Neptune n. a distant planet of the solar system, eighth from the sun,
discovered in 1846 from mathematical computations. [ME f. F
Neptune or L Neptunus god of the sea]
neptunium n. Chem. a radioactive transuranic metallic element produced
when uranium atoms absorb bombarding neutrons. °Symb.: Np.
[NEPTUNE, as the next planet beyond Uranus, + -IUM]
NERC abbr. (in the UK) Natural Environment Research Council.
nerd n. (also nurd) esp. US sl. a foolish, feeble, or
uninteresting person. ЬЬnerdy adj. [20th c.: orig. uncert.]
nereid n. Mythol. a sea-nymph. [L Nere‹s Nere‹d- f. Gk Nereis -idos
daughter of the sea-god Nereus]
nerine n. any S. African plant of the genus Nerine, bearing flowers
with usu. six narrow strap-shaped petals, often crimped and
twisted. [mod.L f. the L name of a water-nymph]
neroli n. (in full neroli oil) an essential oil from the flowers of the
Seville orange, used in perfumery. [F n‚roli f. It. neroli,
perh. f. the name of an Italian princess]
nervate adj. (of a leaf) having veins. ЬЬnervation n. [NERVE +
nerve n. & v. --n. 1 a a fibre or bundle of fibres that transmits
impulses of sensation or motion between the brain or spinal cord
and other parts of the body. b the material constituting these.
2 a coolness in danger; bravery; assurance. b colloq.
impudence, audacity (they've got a nerve). 3 (in pl.) a the
bodily state in regard to physical sensitiveness and the
interaction between the brain and other parts. b a state of
heightened nervousness or sensitivity; a condition of mental or
physical stress (need to calm my nerves). 4 a rib of a leaf,
esp. the midrib. 5 poet. archaic a sinew or tendon. --v.tr.
1 (usu. refl.) brace (oneself) to face danger, suffering, etc.
2 give strength, vigour, or courage to. Ьget on a person's
nerves irritate or annoy a person. have nerves of iron (or
steel) (of a person etc.) be not easily upset or frightened.
nerve-cell an elongated branched cell transmitting impulses in
nerve tissue. nerve-centre 1 a group of closely connected nerve
cells associated in performing some function. 2 the centre of
control of an organization etc. nerve gas a poisonous gas
affecting the nervous system. nerve-racking stressful,
frightening; straining the nerves. ЬЬnerved adj. (also in
comb.). [ME, = sinew, f. L nervus, rel. to Gk neuron]
nerveless adj. 1 inert, lacking vigour or spirit. 2 confident; not
nervous. 3 (of style) diffuse. 4 Bot. & Entomol. without
nervures. 5 Anat. & Zool. without nerves. ЬЬnervelessly adv.
nervine adj. & n. --adj. relieving nerve-disorders. --n. a nervine
drug. [F nervin (as NERVE)]
nervo- comb. form (also nerv- before a vowel) a nerve or the nerves.
nervous adj. 1 having delicate or disordered nerves. 2 timid or
anxious. 3 a excitable; highly strung; easily agitated. b
resulting from this temperament (nervous tension; a nervous
headache). 4 affecting or acting on the nerves. 5 (foll. by of
+ verbal noun) reluctant, afraid (am nervous of meeting them).
Ьnervous breakdown a period of mental illness, usu. resulting
from severe depression or anxiety. nervous system the body's
network of specialized cells which transmit nerve impulses
between parts of the body (cf. central nervous system,
peripheral nervous system). nervous wreck colloq. a person
suffering from mental stress, exhaustion, etc. ЬЬnervously adv.
nervousness n. [ME f. L nervosus (as NERVE)]
nervure n. 1 each of the hollow tubes that form the framework of an
insect's wing; a venule. 2 the principal vein of a leaf. [F
nervy adj. (nervier, nerviest) 1 nervous; easily excited or
disturbed. 2 US bold, impudent. 3 archaic sinewy, strong.
ЬЬnervily adv. nerviness n.
nescient adj. literary (foll. by of) lacking knowledge; ignorant.
ЬЬnescience n. [LL nescientia f. L nescire not know f. ne- not
+ scire know]
ness n. a headland or promontory. [OE n‘s, rel. to OE nasu NOSE]
-ness suffix forming nouns from adjectives, expressing: 1 state or
condition, or an instance of this (bitterness; conceitedness;
happiness; a kindness). 2 something in a certain state
(wilderness). [OE -nes, - ness f. Gmc]
nest n. & v. --n. 1 a structure or place where a bird lays eggs and
shelters its young. 2 an animal's or insect's breeding-place or
lair. 3 a snug or secluded retreat or shelter. 4 (often foll.
by of) a place fostering something undesirable (a nest of vice).
5 a brood or swarm. 6 a group or set of similar objects, often
of different sizes and fitting together for storage (a nest of
tables). --v. 1 intr. use or build a nest. 2 intr. take wild
birds' nests or eggs. 3 intr. (of objects) fit together or one
inside another. 4 tr. (usu. as nested adj.) establish in or as
in a nest. Ьnest egg 1 a sum of money saved for the future. 2
a real or artificial egg left in a nest to induce hens to lay
eggs there. ЬЬnestful n. (pl. -fuls). nesting n. (in sense 2
of v.). nestlike adj. [OE nest]
nestle v. 1 intr. (often foll. by down, in, etc.) settle oneself
comfortably. 2 intr. press oneself against another in affection
etc. 3 tr. (foll. by in, into, etc.) push (a head or shoulder
etc.) affectionately or snugly. 4 intr. lie half hidden or
embedded. [OE nestlian (as NEST)]
nestling n. a bird that is too young to leave its nest.
net(1) n. & v. --n. 1 an open-meshed fabric of cord, rope, fibre,
etc. 2 a piece of net used esp. to restrain, contain, or
delimit, or to catch fish or other animals. 3 a structure with
net to enclose an area of ground, esp. in sport. 4 a a
structure with net used in various games, esp. forming the goal
in football, netball, etc., and dividing the court in tennis
etc. b (often in pl.) a practice-ground in cricket, surrounded
by nets. 5 a system or procedure for catching or entrapping a
person or persons. 6 = NETWORK. --v. (netted, netting) 1 tr.
a cover, confine, or catch with a net. b procure as with a net.
2 tr. hit (a ball) into the net, esp. of a goal. 3 intr. make
netting. 4 tr. make (a purse, hammock, etc.) by knotting etc.
threads together to form a net. 5 tr. fish with nets, or set
nets, in (a river). 6 tr. (usu. as netted adj.) mark with a
netlike pattern; reticulate. ЬЬnetful n. (pl. -fuls). [OE
net(2) adj. & v. (also nett) --adj. 1 (esp. of money) remaining after
all necessary deductions, or free from deductions. 2 (of a
price) to be paid in full; not reducible. 3 (of a weight)
excluding that of the packaging or container etc. 4 (of an
effect, result, etc.) ultimate, effective. --v.tr. (netted,
netting) gain or yield (a sum) as net profit. Ьnet profit the
effective profit; the actual gain after working expenses have
been paid. net ton see TON(1). [F net NEAT(1)]
netball n. a team game in which goals are scored by throwing a ball
through a high horizontal ring with a net suspended from it.
nether adj. archaic = LOWER(1). Ьnether regions (or world) hell; the
underworld. ЬЬnethermost adj. [OE nithera etc. f. Gmc]
n. 1 a native or national of the Netherlands. 2 a person of
Dutch descent. ЬЬNetherlandish adj. [Du. Nederlander,
n. 1 (usu. prec. by the) Holland. 2 hist. the Low Countries.
[Du. Nederland (as NETHER, LAND)]
netsuke n. (pl. same or netsukes) (in Japan) a carved button-like
ornament, esp. of ivory or wood, formerly worn to suspend
articles from a girdle. [Jap.]
nett var. of NET(2).
netting n. 1 netted fabric. 2 a piece of this.
nettle n. & v. --n. 1 any plant of the genus Urtica, esp. U. dioica,
with jagged leaves covered with stinging hairs. 2 any of
various plants resembling this. --v.tr. 1 irritate, provoke,
annoy. 2 sting with nettles. Ьnettle-rash a skin eruption like
nettle stings. [OE netle, netele]
network n. & v. --n. 1 an arrangement of intersecting horizontal and
vertical lines, like the structure of a net. 2 a complex system
of railways, roads, canals, etc. 3 a group of people who
exchange information, contacts, and experience for professional
or social purposes. 4 a chain of interconnected computers,
machines, or operations. 5 a system of connected electrical
conductors. 6 a group of broadcasting stations connected for a
simultaneous broadcast of a programme. --v. 1 tr. broadcast on
a network. 2 intr. establish a network. 3 tr. link (machines,
esp. computers) to operate interactively. 4 intr. be a member
of a network (see sense 3 of n.).
networker n. 1 Computing a member of an organization or computer network
who operates from home or from an external office. 2 a member
of a professional or social network.
neume n. (also neum) Mus. a sign in plainsong indicating a note or
group of notes to be sung to a syllable. [ME f. OF neume f.
med.L neu(p)ma f. Gk pneuma breath]
neural adj. of or relating to a nerve or the central nervous system.
ЬЬneurally adv. [Gk neuron nerve]
neuralgia n. an intense intermittent pain along the course of a nerve,
esp. in the head or face. ЬЬneuralgic adj. [as NEURAL +
n. a general term for fatigue, anxiety, listlessness, etc.
(not in medical use). ЬЬneurasthenic adj. & n. [Gk neuron
nerve + ASTHENIA]
neuritis n. inflammation of a nerve or nerves. ЬЬneuritic adj. [formed
as NEURO- + -ITIS]
neuro- comb. form a nerve or the nerves. [Gk neuron nerve]
n. the growth and development of nervous tissue.
adj. caused by or arising in nervous tissue.
neuroglia n. the connective tissue supporting the central nervous system.
[NEURO- + Gk glia glue]
n. a hormone produced by nerve-cells and secreted into the
neurology n. the scientific study of nerve systems. ЬЬneurological adj.
neurologically adv. neurologist n. [mod.L neurologia f. mod.
Gk (as NEURO-, -LOGY)]
neuroma n. (pl. neuromas or neuromata) a tumour on a nerve or in
nerve-tissue. [Gk neuron nerve + -OMA]
adj. of or relating to nerves and muscles.
neuron n. (also neurone) a specialized cell transmitting nerve
impulses; a nerve-cell. ЬЬneuronal adj. neuronic adj. [Gk
neuropath n. a person affected by nervous disease, or with an abnormally
sensitive nervous system. ЬЬneuropathic adj. neuropathy n.
n. the pathology of the nervous system. ЬЬneuropathologist n.
n. the physiology of the nervous system. ЬЬneurophysiological
adj. neurophysiologist n.
n. any insect of the order Neuroptera, including lacewings,
having four finely-veined membranous leaflike wings.
ЬЬneuropterous adj. [NEURO- + Gk pteron wing]
neurosis n. (pl. neuroses) a mental illness characterized by irrational
or depressive thought or behaviour, caused by a disorder of the
nervous system usu. without organic change. [mod.L (as NEURO-,
n. surgery performed on the nervous system, esp. the brain and
spinal cord. ЬЬneurosurgeon n. neurosurgical adj.
neurotic adj. & n. --adj. 1 caused by or relating to neurosis. 2 (of a
person) suffering from neurosis. 3 colloq. abnormally sensitive
or obsessive. --n. a neurotic person. ЬЬneurotically adv.
neurotomy n. (pl. -ies) the operation of cutting a nerve, esp. to
produce sensory loss.
n. Biochem. a chemical substance released from a nerve fibre
that effects the transfer of an impulse to another nerve or
neuter adj., n., & v. --adj. 1 Gram. (of a noun etc.) neither
masculine nor feminine. 2 (of a plant) having neither pistils
nor stamen. 3 (of an insect) sexually undeveloped. --n. 1
Gram. a neuter word. 2 a a non-fertile insect, esp. a worker
bee or ant. b a castrated animal. --v.tr. castrate or spay.
[ME f. OF neutre or L neuter neither f. ne- not + uter either]
neutral adj. & n. --adj. 1 not helping or supporting either of two
opposing sides, esp. States at war or in dispute; impartial. 2
belonging to a neutral party, State, etc. (neutral ships). 3
indistinct, vague, indeterminate. 4 (of a gear) in which the
engine is disconnected from the driven parts. 5 (of colours)
not strong or positive; grey or beige. 6 Chem. neither acid nor
alkaline. 7 Electr. neither positive nor negative. 8 Biol.
sexually undeveloped; asexual. --n. 1 a a neutral State or
person. b a subject of a neutral State. 2 a neutral gear.
ЬЬneutrality n. neutrally adv. [ME f. obs. F neutral or L
neutralis of neuter gender (as NEUTER)]
n. a policy of political neutrality. ЬЬneutralist n.
v.tr. (also -ise) 1 make neutral. 2 counterbalance; render
ineffective by an opposite force or effect. 3 exempt or exclude
(a place) from the sphere of hostilities. ЬЬneutralization n.
neutralizer n. [F neutraliser f. med.L neutralizare (as
neutrino n. (pl. -os) any of a group of stable elementary particles
with zero electric charge and probably zero mass, which travel
at the speed of light. [It., dimin. of neutro neutral (as
neutron n. an elementary particle of about the same mass as a proton
but without an electric charge, present in all atomic nuclei
except those of ordinary hydrogen. Ьneutron bomb a bomb
producing neutrons and little blast, causing damage to life but
little destruction to property. neutron star a very dense star
composed mainly of neutrons. [NEUTRAL + -ON]
Nev. abbr. Nevada.
n‚v‚ n. an expanse of granular snow not yet compressed into ice at
the head of a glacier. [Swiss F, = glacier, ult. f. L nix nivis
never adv. 1 a at no time; on no occasion; not ever (have never been
to Paris; never saw them again). b colloq. as an emphatic
negative (I never heard you come in). 2 not at all (never
fear). 3 colloq. (expressing surprise) surely not (you never
left the key in the lock!). Ьnever-never (often prec. by the)
Brit. colloq. hire purchase. never-never land an imaginary
utopian place. never a one none. never say die see DIE(1).
well I never! expressing great surprise. [OE n‘fre f. ne not
+ ‘fre EVER]
nevermore adv. at no future time.
adv. in spite of that; notwithstanding; all the same.
nevus US var. of NAEVUS.
new adj. & adv. --adj. 1 a of recent origin or arrival. b made,
invented, discovered, acquired, or experienced recently or now
for the first time (a new star; has many new ideas). 2 in
original condition; not worn or used. 3 a renewed or reformed
(a new life; the new order). b reinvigorated (felt like a new
person). 4 different from a recent previous one (has a new
job). 5 in addition to others already existing (have you been
to the new supermarket?). 6 (often foll. by to) unfamiliar or
strange (a new sensation; the idea was new to me). 7 (often
foll. by at) (of a person) inexperienced, unaccustomed (to doing
something) (am new at this business). 8 (usu. prec. by the)
often derog. a later, modern. b newfangled. c given to new or
modern ideas (the new man). d recently affected by social
change (the new rich). 9 (often prec. by the) advanced in
method or theory (the new formula). 10 (in place-names)
discovered or founded later than and named after (New York; New
Zealand). --adv. (usu. in comb.) 1 newly, recently (new-found;
new-baked). 2 anew, afresh. Ьnew birth Theol. spiritual
regeneration. new broom see BROOM. new deal new arrangements
or conditions, esp. when better than the earlier ones. new-laid
(of an egg) freshly laid. new look a new or revised appearance
or presentation, esp. of something familiar. the new
mathematics (or maths) a system of teaching mathematics to
children, with emphasis on investigation by them and on set
theory. new moon 1 the moon when first seen as a crescent after
conjunction with the sun. 2 the time of its appearance. a new
one (often foll. by on) colloq. an account or idea not
previously encountered (by a person). new potatoes the earliest
potatoes of a new crop. new star a nova. new style dating
reckoned by the Gregorian Calendar. New Testament the part of
the Bible concerned with the life and teachings of Christ and
his earliest followers. new town Brit. a town established as a
completely new settlement with government sponsorship. new wave
1 = NOUVELLE VAGUE. 2 a style of rock music popular in the
1970s. New World North and South America regarded collectively
in relation to Europe. new year 1 the calendar year just begun
or about to begin. 2 the first few days of a year. New Year's
Day 1 January. New Year's Eve 31 December. ЬЬnewish adj.
newness n. [OE niwe f. Gmc]
newcomer n. 1 a person who has recently arrived. 2 a beginner in some
newel n. 1 the supporting central post of winding stairs. 2 the top
or bottom supporting post of a stair-rail. [ME f. OF noel,
nouel, knob f. med.L nodellus dimin. of L nodus knot]
adj. derog. different from what one is used to; objectionably
new. [ME newfangle (now dial.) liking what is new f. newe NEW
adv. + - fangel f. OE fangol (unrecorded) inclined to take]
n. (in full Newfoundland dog) 1 a dog of a very large breed with
a thick coarse coat. 2 this breed. [the name of a Canadian
province, an island at the mouth of the St Lawrence river]
newly adv. 1 recently (a friend newly arrived; a newly-discovered
country). 2 afresh, anew (newly painted). 3 in a new or
different manner (newly arranged). Ьnewly-wed a recently
Newmarket n. a gambling card-game in which players seek to play cards
that match those on the table. [Newmarket in S. England]
news n.pl. (usu. treated as sing.) 1 information about important or
interesting recent events, esp. when published or broadcast. 2
(prec. by the) a broadcast report of news. 3 newly received or
noteworthy information. 4 (foll. by to) colloq. information not
previously known (to a person) (that's news to me). Ьnews
agency an organization that collects and distributes news items.
news bulletin a collection of items of news, esp. for
broadcasting. news conference a press conference.
news-gatherer n. a person who researches news items esp. for
broadcast or publication. news-gathering this process. news
room a room in a newspaper or broadcasting office where news is
processed. news-sheet a simple form of newspaper; a newsletter.
news-stand a stall for the sale of newspapers. news-vendor a
newspaper-seller. ЬЬnewsless adj. [ME, pl. of NEW after OF
noveles or med.L nova neut. pl. of novus new]
newsagent n. Brit. a seller of or shop selling newspapers and usu.
related items, e.g. stationery.
newsboy n. a boy who sells or delivers newspapers.
newsbrief n. a short item of news, esp. on television; a newsflash.
newscast n. a radio or television broadcast of news reports.
n. = NEWSREADER.
n. US = NEWSAGENT.
newsflash n. a single item of important news broadcast separately and
often interrupting other programmes.
newsgirl n. a girl who sells or delivers newspapers.
n. an informal printed report issued periodically to the
members of a society, business, organization, etc.
newsman n. (pl. -men) a newspaper reporter; a journalist.
n. a gossip.
newspaper n. 1 a printed publication (usu. daily or weekly) containing
news, advertisements, correspondence, etc. 2 the sheets of
paper forming this (wrapped in newspaper).
n. (pl. -men) a journalist.
Newspeak n. ambiguous euphemistic language used esp. in political
propaganda. [an artificial official language in George Orwell's
Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)]
newsprint n. a type of low-quality paper on which newspapers are printed.
n. a person who reads out broadcast news bulletins.
newsreel n. a short cinema film of recent events.
adj. topical; noteworthy as news. ЬЬnewsworthiness n.
newsy adj. (newsier, newsiest) colloq. full of news.
newt n. any of various small amphibians, esp. of the genus Triturus,
having a well-developed tail. [ME f. ewt, with n from an (cf.
NICKNAME): var. of evet EFT]
newton n. Physics the SI unit of force that, acting on a mass of one
kilogram, increases its velocity by one metre per second every
second along the direction that it acts. °Abbr.: N. [Sir Isaac
Newton, Engl. scientist d. 1727]
Newtonian adj. of or devised by Isaac Newton (see NEWTON). ЬNewtonian
mechanics the system of mechanics which relies on Newton's laws
of motion concerning the relations between forces acting and
motions occurring. Newtonian telescope a reflecting telescope
with a small secondary mirror at 45ш to the main beam of light
to reflect it into a magnifying eyepiece.
n. 1 a native or national of New Zealand, an island group in
the Pacific. 2 a person of New Zealand descent.
next adj., adv., n., & prep. --adj. 1 (often foll. by to) being or
positioned or living nearest (in the next house; the chair next
to the fire). 2 the nearest in order of time; the first or
soonest encountered or considered (next Friday; ask the next
person you see). --adv. 1 (often foll. by to) in the nearest
place or degree (put it next to mine; came next to last). 2 on
the first or soonest occasion (when we next meet). --n. the
next person or thing. --prep. colloq. next to. Ьnext-best the
next in order of preference. next door see DOOR. next of kin
the closest living relative or relatives. next to almost (next
to nothing left). the next world see WORLD. [OE nehsta superl.
nexus n. (pl. same) 1 a connected group or series. 2 a bond; a
connection. [L f. nectere nex- bind]
NI abbr. 1 (in the UK) National Insurance. 2 Northern Ireland.
Ni symb. Chem. the element nickel.
niacin n. = NICOTINIC ACID. [nicotinic acid + -IN]
nib n. & v. --n. 1 the point of a pen, which touches the writing
surface. 2 (in pl.) shelled and crushed coffee or cocoa beans.
3 the point of a tool etc. --v. (nibbed, nibbing) 1 tr.
provide with a nib. 2 tr. mend the nib of. 3 tr. & intr.
nibble. [prob. f. MDu. nib or MLG nibbe, var. of nebbe NEB]
nibble v. & n. --v. 1 tr. & (foll. by at) intr. a take small bites
at. b eat in small amounts. c bite at gently or cautiously or
playfully. 2 intr. (foll. by at) show cautious interest in.
--n. 1 an instance of nibbling. 2 a very small amount of food.
3 Computing half a byte, i.e. 4 bits. ЬЬnibbler n. [prob. of
LG or Du. orig.: cf. LG nibbeln gnaw]
niblick n. Golf an iron with a large round heavy head, used esp. for
playing out of bunkers. [19th c.: orig. unkn.]
nibs n. Ьhis nibs joc. colloq. a mock title used with reference to
an important or self-important person. [19th c.: orig. unkn.
(cf. earlier nabs)]
nice adj. 1 pleasant, agreeable, satisfactory. 2 (of a person)
kind, good-natured. 3 iron. bad or awkward (a nice mess you've
made). 4 a fine or subtle (a nice distinction). b requiring
careful thought or attention (a nice problem). 5 fastidious;
delicately sensitive. 6 punctilious, scrupulous (were not too
nice about their methods). 7 (foll. by an adj., often with and)
satisfactory or adequate in terms of the quality described (a
nice long time; nice and warm). Ьnice work a task well done.
ЬЬnicely adv. niceness n. nicish adj. (also niceish). [ME, =
stupid, wanton f. OF, = silly, simple f. L nescius ignorant (as
nescience: see NESCIENT)]
n. a formal statement of Christian belief based on that adopted
at the first Council of Nicaea in 325. [Nicene ME f. LL Nicenus
of Nicaea in Asia Minor]
nicety n. (pl. -ies) 1 a subtle distinction or detail. 2 precision,
accuracy. 3 intricate or subtle quality (a point of great
nicety). 4 (in pl.) a minutiae; fine details. b refinements,
trimmings. Ьto a nicety with exactness. [ME f. OF nicet‚ (as
niche n. & v. --n. 1 a shallow recess, esp. in a wall to contain a
statue etc. 2 a comfortable or suitable position in life or
employment. 3 an appropriate combination of conditions for a
species to thrive. --v.tr. (often as niched adj.) 1 place in a
niche. 2 ensconce (esp. oneself) in a recess or corner. [F f.
nicher make a nest, ult. f. L nidus nest]
Nichrome n. propr. a group of nickel-chromium alloys used for making
wire in heating elements etc. [NICKEL + CHROME]
Nick n. ЬOld Nick the Devil. [prob. f. a pet-form of the name
nick(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a small cut or notch. 2 Brit. sl. a a
prison. b a police station. 3 (prec. by in with adj.) Brit.
colloq. condition (in reasonable nick). 4 the junction between
the floor and walls in a squash court. --v.tr. 1 make a nick
or nicks in. 2 Brit. sl. a steal. b arrest, catch. Ьin the
nick of time only just in time; just at the right moment. [ME:
nick(2) v.intr. Austral. sl. (foll. by off, in, etc.) move quickly or
furtively. [19th c.: orig. uncert. (cf. NIP(1) 4)]
nickel n. & v. --n. 1 Chem. a malleable ductile silver-white metallic
transition element, occurring naturally in various minerals and
used in special steels, in magnetic alloys, and as a catalyst.
°Symb.: Ni. 2 colloq. a US five-cent coin. --v.tr.
(nickelled, nickelling; US nickeled, nickeling) coat with
nickel. Ьnickel brass an alloy of copper, zinc, and a small
amount of nickel. nickel-plated coated with nickel by plating.
nickel silver = German silver. nickel steel a type of stainless
steel with chromium and nickel. ЬЬnickelic adj. nickelous adj.
[abbr. of G Kupfernickel copper-coloured ore, from which nickel
was first obtained, f. Kupfer copper + Nickel demon, with ref.
to the ore's failure to yield copper]
n. US colloq. a jukebox. [NICKEL + MELODEON]
nicker n. (pl. same) Brit. sl. a pound (in money). [20th c.: orig.
nick-nack var. of KNICK-KNACK.
nickname n. & v. --n. a familiar or humorous name given to a person or
thing instead of or as well as the real name. --v.tr. 1 give a
nickname to. 2 call (a person or thing) by a nickname. [ME f.
eke-name, with n from an (cf. NEWT): eke = addition, f. OE eaca
nicol n. (in full nicol prism) a device for producing plane-polarized
light, consisting of two pieces of cut calcite cemented together
with Canada balsam. [W. Nicol, Sc. physicist d. 1851, its
nicotine n. a colourless poisonous alkaloid present in tobacco.
ЬЬnicotinism n. nicotinize v.tr. (also -ise). [F f. mod.L
nicotiana (herba) tobacco-plant, f. J. Nicot, Fr. diplomat &
introducer of tobacco into France in the 16th c.]
n. a vitamin of the B complex, found in milk, liver, and yeast,
a deficiency of which causes pellagra. Also called NIACIN.
nictitate v.intr. close and open the eyes; blink or wink. Ьnictitating
membrane a clear membrane forming a third eyelid in amphibians,
birds, and some other animals, that can be drawn across the eye
to give protection without loss of vision. ЬЬnictitation n.
[med.L nictitare frequent. of L nictare blink]
nide n. (Brit. nye) a brood of pheasants. [F nid or L nidus: see
v.intr. = NIDIFY.
nidify v.intr. (-ies, -ied) (of a bird) build a nest. ЬЬnidification
n. [L nidificare f. NIDUS nest]
nidus n. (pl. nidi or niduses) 1 a place in which an insect etc.
deposits its eggs, or in which spores or seeds develop. 2 a
place in which something is nurtured or developed. [L, rel. to
niece n. a daughter of one's brother or sister, or of one's
brother-in-law or sister-in-law. [ME f. OF ult. f. L neptis
niello n. (pl. nielli or -os) 1 a black composition of sulphur with
silver, lead, or copper, for filling engraved lines in silver or
other metal. 2 a such ornamental work. b an object decorated
with this. ЬЬnielloed adj. [It. f. L nigellus dimin. of niger
niff n. & v. Brit. colloq. --n. a smell, esp. an unpleasant one.
--v.intr. smell, stink. ЬЬniffy adj. (niffier, niffiest).
niggard n. & adj. --n. a mean or stingy person. --adj. archaic =
NIGGARDLY. [ME, alt. f. earlier (obs.) nigon, prob. of Scand.
orig.: cf. NIGGLE]
niggardly adj. & adv. --adj. 1 stingy, parsimonious. 2 meagre, scanty.
--adv. in a stingy or meagre manner. ЬЬniggardliness n.
nigger n. offens. 1 a Black person. 2 a dark-skinned person. Ьa
nigger in the woodpile a hidden cause of trouble or
inconvenience. [earlier neger f. F nЉgre f. Sp. negro NEGRO]
niggle v. & n. --v. 1 intr. be over-attentive to details. 2 intr.
find fault in a petty way. 3 tr. colloq. irritate; nag
pettily. --n. a trifling complaint or criticism; a worry or
annoyance. [app. of Scand. orig.: cf. Norw. nigla]
niggling adj. 1 troublesome or irritating in a petty way. 2 trifling or
petty. ЬЬnigglingly adv.
night n. 1 the period of darkness between one day and the next; the
time from sunset to sunrise. 2 nightfall (shall not reach home
before night). 3 the darkness of night (as black as night). 4
a night or evening appointed for some activity, or spent or
regarded in a certain way (last night of the Proms; a great
night out). Ьnight-blindness = NYCTALOPIA. night fighter an
aeroplane used for interception at night. night-hawk 1 a
nocturnal prowler, esp. a thief. 2 a nightjar. night-life
entertainment available at night in a town. night-light a dim
light kept on in a bedroom at night. night-long throughout the
night. night nurse a nurse on duty during the night. night-owl
colloq. a person active at night. night safe a safe with
access from the outer wall of a bank for the deposit of money
etc. when the bank is closed. night school an institution
providing evening classes for those working by day. night shift
a shift of workers employed during the night. night-soil the
contents of cesspools etc. removed at night, esp. for use as
manure. night-time the time of darkness. night-watchman 1 a
person whose job is to keep watch by night. 2 Cricket an
inferior batsman sent in when a wicket falls near the close of a
day's play. ЬЬnightless adj. [OE neaht, niht f. Gmc]
nightbird n. a person who habitually goes about at night.
nightcap n. 1 hist. a cap worn in bed. 2 a hot or alcoholic drink taken
n. clothes worn in bed.
nightclub n. a club that is open at night and provides refreshment and
n. a woman's or child's loose garment worn in bed.
nightfall n. the onset of night; the end of daylight.
nightgown n. 1 = NIGHTDRESS. 2 hist. a dressing-gown.
nightie n. colloq. a nightdress. [abbr.]
n. any small reddish-brown bird of the genus Luscinia, esp. L.
megarhynchos, of which the male sings melodiously, esp. at
night. [OE nihtegala (whence obs. nightgale) f. Gmc: for -n-
nightjar n. any nocturnal bird of the family Caprimulgidae, having a
characteristic harsh cry.
nightly adj. & adv. --adj. 1 happening, done, or existing in the
night. 2 recurring every night. --adv. every night. [OE
nihtlic (as NIGHT)]
nightmare n. 1 a frightening or unpleasant dream. 2 colloq. a terrifying
or very unpleasant experience or situation. 3 a haunting or
obsessive fear. ЬЬnightmarish adj. nightmarishly adv. [an
evil spirit (incubus) once thought to lie on and suffocate
sleepers: OE m‘re incubus]
n. any of various poisonous plants, esp. of the genus Solanum,
including S. nigrum (black nightshade) with black berries, and
S. dulcamara (woody nightshade) with red berries. Ьdeadly
nightshade = BELLADONNA. [OE nihtscada app. formed as NIGHT +
SHADE, prob. with ref. to its poisonous properties]
n. a long shirt worn in bed.
nightspot n. a nightclub.
n. US a policeman's truncheon.
adj. blackish. ЬЬnigrescence n. [L nigrescere grow black f.
niger nigri black]
nigritude n. blackness. [L nigritudo (as NIGRESCENT)]
nihilism n. 1 the rejection of all religious and moral principles. 2 an
extreme form of scepticism maintaining that nothing has a real
existence. ЬЬnihilist n. nihilistic adj. [L nihil nothing]
nihility n. (pl. -ies) 1 non-existence, nothingness. 2 a mere nothing;
a trifle. [med.L nihilitas (as NIHILISM)]
n. 1 RC Ch. a certificate that a book is not open to objection
on doctrinal or moral grounds. 2 an authorization or official
approval. [L, = nothing hinders]
-nik suffix forming nouns denoting a person associated with a
specified thing or quality (beatnik; refusenik). [Russ. (as
SPUTNIK) and Yiddish]
nil n. nothing; no number or amount (esp. as a score in games).
[L, = nihil nothing]
Nile n. & adj. (in full Nile-blue, Nile-green) pale greenish blue or
green. [the river Nile in NE Africa]
nilgai n. a large short-horned Indian antelope, Boselaphus
tragocamelus. [Hindi nilgai f. nil blue + gai cow]
Nilotic adj. 1 of or relating to the Nile or the Nile region of Africa.
2 of or relating to a group of E. African Negroid peoples, or
the languages spoken by them. [L Niloticus f. Gk Neilotikos f.
nim n. a game in which two players must alternately take one or
more objects from one of several heaps and seek either to avoid
taking or to take the last remaining object. [20th c.: perh. f.
archaic nim take (as NIMBLE), or G nimm imper. of nehmen take]
nimble adj. (nimbler, nimblest) 1 quick and light in movement or
action; agile. 2 (of the mind) quick to comprehend; clever,
versatile. ЬЬnimbleness n. nimbly adv. [OE n‘mel quick to
seize f. niman take f. Gmc, with -b- as in THIMBLE]
n. (pl. nimbostrati) Meteorol. a low dark-grey layer of
cloud. [mod.L, f. NIMBUS + STRATUS]
nimbus n. (pl. nimbi or nimbuses) 1 a a bright cloud or halo
investing a deity or person or thing. b the halo of a saint
etc. 2 Meteorol. a rain-cloud. ЬЬnimbused adj. [L, = cloud,
adj. feeble, affected; lacking in vigour. [cf. MIMINY-PIMINY,
Nimrod n. a great hunter or sportsman. [Heb. Nimrod valiant: see
n. a simpleton; a fool . [17th c.: orig. unkn.]
nine n. & adj. --n. 1 one more than eight, or one less than ten;
the sum of five units and four units. 2 a symbol for this (9,
ix, IX). 3 a size etc. denoted by nine. 4 a set or team of
nine individuals. 5 the time of nine o'clock (is it nine yet?).
6 a card with nine pips. 7 (the Nine) the nine muses. --adj.
that amount to nine. Ьdressed up to the nines dressed very
elaborately. nine days' wonder a person or thing that is
briefly famous. nine times out of ten nearly always. nine to
five a designation of typical office hours. [OE nigon f. Gmc]
ninefold adj. & adv. 1 nine times as much or as many. 2 consisting of
ninepin n. 1 (in pl.; usu. treated as sing.) a game in which nine pins
are set up at the end of an alley and bowled at in an attempt to
knock them down. 2 a pin used in this game.
nineteen n. & adj. --n. 1 one more than eighteen, nine more than ten.
2 the symbol for this (19, xix, XIX). 3 a size etc. denoted by
nineteen. --adj. that amount to nineteen. Ьtalk nineteen to
the dozen see DOZEN. ЬЬnineteenth adj. & n. [OE nigontyne]
ninety n. & adj. --n. (pl. -ies) 1 the product of nine and ten. 2 a
symbol for this (90, xc, XC). 3 (in pl.) the numbers from 90 to
99, esp. the years of a century or of a person's life. --adj.
that amount to ninety. Ьninety-first, -second , etc. the
ordinal numbers between ninetieth and a hundredth. ninety-one,
-two , etc. the cardinal numbers between ninety and a hundred.
ЬЬninetieth adj. & n. ninetyfold adj. & adv. [OE nigontig]
ninja n. a person skilled in ninjutsu. [Jap.]
ninjutsu n. one of the Japanese martial arts, characterized by stealthy
movement and camouflage. [Jap.]
ninny n. (pl. -ies) a foolish or simple-minded person. [perh. f.
ninon n. a lightweight silk dress fabric. [F]
ninth n. & adj. --n. 1 the position in a sequence corresponding to
the number 9 in the sequence 1-9. 2 something occupying this
position. 3 each of nine equal parts of a thing. 4 Mus. a an
interval or chord spanning nine consecutive notes in the
diatonic scale (e.g. C to D an octave higher). b a note
separated from another by this interval. --adj. that is the
ninth. ЬЬninthly adv.
niobium n. Chem. a rare grey-blue metallic transition element
occurring naturally in several minerals and used in alloys for
superconductors. °Symb.: Nb. Also called COLUMBIUM. ЬЬniobic
adj. niobous adj. [Niobe daughter of Tantalus: so called
because first found in TANTALITE]
Nip n. sl. offens. a Japanese person. [abbr. of NIPPONESE]
nip(1) v. & n. --v. (nipped, nipping) 1 tr. pinch, squeeze, or bite
sharply. 2 tr. (often foll. by off) remove by pinching etc. 3
tr. (of the cold, frost, etc.) cause pain or harm to. 4 intr.
(foll. by in, out, etc.) Brit. colloq. go nimbly or quickly.
5 tr. US sl. steal, snatch. --n. 1 a a pinch, a sharp
squeeze. b a bite. 2 a biting cold. b a check to vegetation
caused by this. Ьnip and tuck US neck and neck. nip in the bud
suppress or destroy (esp. an idea) at an early stage. ЬЬnipping
adj. [ME, prob. of LG or Du. orig.]
nip(2) n. & v. --n. a small quantity of spirits. --v.intr. (nipped,
nipping) drink spirits. [prob. abbr. of nipperkin small
measure: cf. LG, Du. nippen to sip]
nipa n. 1 an E. Indian palm-tree, Nipa fruticans, with a creeping
trunk and large feathery leaves. 2 an alcoholic drink made from
its sap. [Sp. & Port. f. Malay nipah]
nipper n. 1 a person or thing that nips. 2 the claw of a crab,
lobster, etc. 3 Brit. colloq. a young child. 4 (in pl.) any
tool for gripping or cutting, e.g. forceps or pincers.
nipple n. 1 a small projection in which the mammary ducts of either
sex of mammals terminate and from which in females milk is
secreted for the young. 2 the teat of a feeding-bottle. 3 a
device like a nipple in function, e.g. the tip of a grease-gun.
4 a nipple-like protuberance. 5 US a short section of pipe with
a screw-thread at each end for coupling. [16th c., also neble,
nible, perh. dimin. f. neb]
n. a yellow-flowered weed, Lapsana communis.
Nipponese n. & adj. --n. (pl. same) a Japanese person. --adj. Japanese.
[Jap. Nippon Japan, lit. 'land of the rising sun']
NIREX abbr. (in the UK) Nuclear Industry Radioactive Waste Executive.
nirvana n. (in Buddhism) perfect bliss and release from karma, attained
by the extinction of individuality. [Skr. nirvana f. nirva be
extinguished f. nis out + va- to blow]
nisei n. US an American whose parents were immigrants from Japan.
[Jap., lit. 'second generation']
nisi adj. Law that takes effect only on certain conditions (decree
nisi). [L, = 'unless']
n. a tunnel-shaped hut of corrugated iron with a cement floor.
[P. N. Nissen, British engineer d. 1930, its inventor]
nit(1) n. 1 the egg or young form of a louse or other parasitic insect
esp. of human head-lice or body-lice. 2 Brit. sl. a stupid
person. Ьnit-pick colloq. indulge in nit-picking. nit-picker
colloq. a person who nit-picks. nit-picking n. & adj. colloq.
fault-finding in a petty manner. [OE hnitu f. WG]
nit(2) int. Austral. sl. used as a warning that someone is
approaching. Ьkeep nit keep watch; act as guard. [19th c.:
orig. unkn.: cf. NIX(3)]
niter US var. of NITRE.
nitinol n. an alloy of nickel and titanium. [Ni + Ti + Naval Ordnance
Laboratory, Maryland, US]
nitrate n. & v. --n. 1 any salt or ester of nitric acid. 2 potassium
or sodium nitrate when used as a fertilizer. --v.tr. Chem.
treat, combine, or impregnate with nitric acid. ЬЬnitration n.
[F (as NITRE, -ATE(1))]
nitre n. (US niter) saltpetre, potassium nitrate. [ME f. OF f. L
nitrum f. Gk nitron, of Semitic orig.]
nitric adj. of or containing nitrogen, esp. in the quinquevalent
state. Ьnitric acid a colourless corrosive poisonous liquid.
°Chem. formula: HNO. nitric oxide a colourless gas. °Chem.
formula: NO. [F nitrique (as NITRE)]
nitride n. Chem. a binary compound of nitrogen with a more
electropositive element. [NITRE + -IDE]
nitrify v.tr. (-ies, -ied) 1 impregnate with nitrogen. 2 convert
(nitrogen, usu. in the form of ammonia) into nitrites or
nitrates. ЬЬnitrifiable adj. nitrification n. [F nitrifier
nitrile n. Chem. an organic compound consisting of an alkyl radical
bound to a cyanide radical.
nitrite n. any salt or ester of nitrous acid.
nitro- comb. form 1 of or containing nitric acid, nitre, or nitrogen.
2 made with or by use of any of these. 3 of or containing the
monovalent -NO group (the nitro groups in TNT). [Gk (as
n. a yellow oily liquid made by the nitration of benzene and
used to make aniline etc.
n. a highly flammable material made by treating cellulose with
concentrated nitric acid, used in the manufacture of explosives
nitrogen n. Chem. a colourless tasteless odourless gaseous element that
forms four-fifths of the atmosphere and is an essential
constituent of proteins and nucleic acids. °Symb.: N.
Ьnitrogen cycle the interconversion of nitrogen and its
compounds, usu. in the form of nitrates, in nature. nitrogen
fixation a chemical process in which atmospheric nitrogen is
assimilated into organic compounds in living organisms and hence
into the nitrogen cycle. ЬЬnitrogenous adj. [F nitrogЉne (as
n. (also nitroglycerin) an explosive yellow liquid made by
reacting glycerol with a mixture of concentrated sulphuric and
nitrous adj. of, like, or impregnated with nitrogen, esp. in the
tervalent state. Ьnitrous acid a weak acid existing only in
solution and in the gas phase. °Chem. formula: HNO. nitrous
oxide a colourless gas used as an anaesthetic (= laughing-gas)
and as an aerosol propellant. °Chem. formula: NO. [L
nitrosus (as NITRE), partly through F nitreux]
n. sl. the realities or practical details of a matter. [20th
c.: orig. uncert.]
nitwit n. colloq. a stupid person. ЬЬnitwittery n. [perh. f.
NIT(1) + WIT(1)]
nitwitted adj. stupid. ЬЬnitwittedness n.
nix(1) n. & v. sl. --n. 1 nothing. 2 a denial or refusal. --v.tr.
1 cancel. 2 reject. [G, colloq. var. of nichts nothing]
nix(2) n. (fem. nixie) a water-elf. [G (fem. Nixe)]
nix(3) int. Brit. sl. giving warning to confederates etc. that a
person in authority is approaching. [19th c.: perh. = NIX(1)]
No. abbr. 1 number. 2 US North. [sense 1 f. L numero, ablat. of
no(1) adj. 1 not any (there is no excuse; no circumstances could
justify it; no two of them are alike). 2 not a, quite other
than (is no fool; is no part of my plan; caused no slight
inconvenience). 3 hardly any (is no distance; did it in no
time). 4 used elliptically as a slogan, notice, etc., to
forbid, reject, or deplore the thing specified (no parking; no
surrender). Ьby no means see MEANS. no-account unimportant,
worthless. no-ball Cricket n. an unlawfully delivered ball
(counting one to the batting side if not otherwise scored from).
--v.tr. pronounce (a bowler) to have bowled a no-ball. no-claim
(or -claims) bonus a reduction of the insurance premium charged
when the insured has not made a claim under the insurance during
an agreed preceding period. no date (of a book etc.) not
bearing a date of publication etc. no dice see DICE. no doubt
see DOUBT. no end see END. no entry (of a notice) prohibiting
vehicles or persons from entering a road or place. no-fault US
(of insurance) valid regardless of the allocation of blame for
an accident etc. no fear see FEAR. no-frills lacking ornament
or embellishment. no go impossible, hopeless. no-go area an
area forbidden to unauthorized people. no good see GOOD.
no-good see GOOD. no-hitter US Baseball a game in which a team
does not get a player to first base. no-hoper Austral. sl. a
useless person. no joke see JOKE. no joy see JOY n. 3. no
little see LITTLE. no man no person, nobody. no man's land 1
Mil. the space between two opposing armies. 2 an area not
assigned to any owner. 3 an area not clearly belonging to any
one subject etc. no-no colloq. a thing not possible or
acceptable. no-nonsense serious, without flippancy. no place
US nowhere. no-show a person who has reserved a seat etc. but
neither uses it nor cancels the reservation. no side Rugby
Football 1 the end of a game. 2 the referee's announcement of
this. no small see SMALL. no sweat colloq. no bother, no
trouble. no thoroughfare an indication that passage along a
street, path, etc., is blocked or prohibited. no time see TIME.
no trumps (or trump) Bridge a declaration or bid involving
playing without a trump suit. no-trumper Bridge a hand on which
a no-trump bid can suitably be, or has been, made. no way
colloq. 1 it is impossible. 2 I will not agree etc. no whit
see WHIT. no-win of or designating a situation in which success
is impossible. no wonder see WONDER. ... or no ... regardless
of the ... (rain or no rain, I shall go out). there is no
...ing it is impossible to ... (there is no accounting for
tastes; there was no mistaking what he meant). [ME f. nan, non
NONE(1), orig. only before consonants]
no(2) adv. & n. --adv. 1 equivalent to a negative sentence: the
answer to your question is negative, your request or command
will not be complied with, the statement made or course of
action intended or conclusion arrived at is not correct or
satisfactory, the negative statement made is correct. 2 (foll.
by compar.) by no amount; not at all (no better than before). 3
Sc. not (will ye no come back again?). --n. (pl. noes) 1 an
utterance of the word no. 2 a denial or refusal. 3 a negative
vote. Ьis no more has died or ceased to exist. no better than
she should be morally suspect; sexually promiscuous. no can do
colloq. I am unable to do it. the noes have it the negative
voters are in the majority. no less (often foll. by than) 1 as
much (gave me њ50, no less; gave me no less than њ50; is no less
than a scandal; a no less fatal victory). 2 as important (no
less a person than the President). 3 disp. no fewer (no less
than ten people have told me). no longer not now or henceforth
as formerly. no more n. nothing further (have no more to say;
want no more of it). --adj. not any more (no more wine?).
--adv. 1 no longer. 2 never again. 3 to no greater extent (is
no more a lord than I am; could no more do it than fly in the
air). 4 just as little, neither (you did not come, and no more
did he). no, no an emphatic equivalent of a negative sentence
(cf. sense 1 of adv.). no-see-em (or -um) US a small
bloodsucking insect, esp. a midge of the family Ceratopogonidae.
no sooner ... than see SOON. not take no for an answer persist
in spite of refusals. or no or not (pleasant or no, it is
true). whether or no 1 in either case. 2 (as an indirect
question) which of a case and its negative (tell me whether or
no). [OE no, na f. ne not + o, a ever]
n.o. abbr. Cricket not out.
n. 1 a the ship in which (according to the Bible) Noah, his
family, and the animals were saved. b an imitation of this as a
child's toy. 2 a large or cumbrous or old-fashioned trunk or
vehicle. 3 a small bivalve mollusc, Arca tetragona, with a
boat-shaped shell. [Noah, Hebrew patriarch in Gen. 6]
nob(1) n. Brit. sl. a person of wealth or high social position.
[orig. Sc. knabb, nab; 18th c., of unkn. orig.]
nob(2) n. sl. the head. Ьhis nob Cribbage a score of one point for
holding the jack of the same suit as a card turned up by the
dealer. [perh. var. of KNOB]
nobble v.tr. Brit. sl. 1 tamper with (a racehorse) to prevent its
winning. 2 get hold of (money etc.) dishonestly. 3 catch (a
criminal). 4 secure the support of or weaken (a person) esp. by
underhand means. 5 seize, grab. [prob. = dial. knobble,
knubble knock, beat, f. KNOB]
nobbler n. Austral. sl. a glass or drink of liquor. [19th c.: orig.
Nobelist n. US a winner of a Nobel prize.
nobelium n. Chem. a radioactive transuranic metallic element. °Symb.:
No. [Nobel (see NOBEL PRIZE) + -IUM]
n. any of six international prizes awarded annually for
physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature,
economics, and the promotion of peace. [Alfred Nobel (d. 1896),
Swedish chemist and engineer, who endowed them]
nobiliary adj. of the nobility. Ьnobiliary particle a preposition
forming part of a title of nobility (e.g. French de, German
von). [F nobiliaire (as NOBLE)]
nobility n. (pl. -ies) 1 nobleness of character, mind, birth, or rank.
2 (prec. by a, the) a class of nobles, an aristocracy. [ME f.
OF nobilit‚ or L nobilitas (as NOBLE)]
noble adj. & n. --adj. (nobler, noblest) 1 belonging by rank, title,
or birth to the aristocracy. 2 of excellent character; having
lofty ideals; free from pettiness and meanness, magnanimous. 3
of imposing appearance, splendid, magnificent, stately. 4
excellent, admirable (noble horse; noble cellar). --n. 1 a
nobleman or noblewoman. 2 hist. a former English gold coin
first issued in 1351. Ьnoble gas any gaseous element of a group
that almost never combine with other elements. noble metal a
metal (e.g. gold, silver, or platinum) that resists chemical
action, does not corrode or tarnish in air or water, and is not
easily attacked by acids. noble savage primitive man idealized
as in Romantic literature. the noble science boxing.
ЬЬnobleness n. nobly adv. [ME f. OF f. L (g)nobilis, rel. to
nobleman n. (pl. -men) a man of noble rank or birth, a peer.
noblesse n. the class of nobles (esp. of a foreign country). Ь noblesse
oblige privilege entails responsibility. [ME = nobility, f. OF
n. (pl. -women) a woman of noble rank or birth, a peeress.
nobody pron. & n. --pron. no person. --n. (pl. -ies) a person of no
importance, authority, or position. Ьlike nobody's business see
BUSINESS. nobody's fool see FOOL. [ME f. NO(1) + BODY (=
nock n. & v. --n. 1 a notch at either end of a bow for holding the
string. 2 a a notch at the butt-end of an arrow for receiving
the bowstring. b a notched piece of horn serving this purpose.
--v.tr. set (an arrow) on the string. [ME, perh. = nock forward
upper corner of some sails, f. MDu. nocke]
n. a sleepwalker. ЬЬnoctambulism n. [L nox noctis night +
noctule n. a large W. European bat, Nyctalus noctula. [F f. It.
nocturn n. RC Ch. a part of matins orig. said at night. [ME f. OF
nocturne or eccl.L nocturnum neut. of L nocturnus: see
nocturnal adj. of or in the night; done or active by night. Ьnocturnal
emission involuntary emission of semen during sleep.
ЬЬnocturnally adv. [LL nocturnalis f. L nocturnus of the night
f. nox noctis night]
nocturne n. 1 Mus. a short composition of a romantic nature, usu. for
piano. 2 a picture of a night scene. [F (as NOCTURN)]
nocuous adj. literary noxious, harmful. [L nocuus f. nocere hurt]
nod v. & n. --v. (nodded, nodding) 1 intr. incline one's head
slightly and briefly in greeting, assent, or command. 2 intr.
let one's head fall forward in drowsiness; be drowsy. 3 tr.
incline (one's head). 4 tr. signify (assent etc.) by a nod. 5
intr. (of flowers, plumes, etc.) bend downwards and sway, or
move up and down. 6 intr. make a mistake due to a momentary
lack of alertness or attention. 7 intr. (of a building etc.)
incline from the perpendicular (nodding to its fall). --n. a
nodding of the head. Ьget the nod US be chosen or approved.
nodding acquaintance (usu. foll. by with) a very slight
acquaintance with a person or subject. nod off colloq. fall
asleep. nod through colloq. 1 approve on the nod. 2 Brit.
Parl. formally count (a Member of Parliament) as if having voted
when unable to do so. on the nod colloq. 1 with merely formal
assent and no discussion. 2 on credit. ЬЬnoddingly adv. [ME
nodde, of unkn. orig.]
noddle(1) n. colloq. the head. [ME nodle, of unkn. orig.]
noddle(2) v.tr. nod or wag (one's head). [NOD + -LE(4)]
noddy n. (pl. -ies) 1 a simpleton. 2 any of various tropical sea
birds of the genus Anous, resembling terns. [prob. f. obs.
noddy foolish, which is perh. f. NOD]
node n. 1 Bot. a the part of a plant stem from which one or more
leaves emerge. b a knob on a root or branch. 2 Anat. a natural
swelling or bulge in an organ or part of the body. 3 Astron.
either of two points at which a planet's orbit intersects the
plane of the ecliptic or the celestial equator. 4 Physics a
point of minimum disturbance in a standing wave system. 5
Electr. a point of zero current or voltage. 6 Math. a a point
at which a curve intersects itself. b a vertex in a graph. 7 a
component in a computer network. ЬЬnodal adj. nodical adj. (in
sense 3). [L nodus knot]
nodi pl. of NODUS.
nodose adj. knotty, knotted. ЬЬnodosity n. [L nodosus (as NODE)]
nodule n. 1 a small rounded lump of anything, e.g. flint in chalk,
carbon in cast iron, or a mineral on the seabed. 2 a small
swelling or aggregation of cells, e.g. a small tumour, node, or
ganglion, or a swelling on a root of a legume containing
bacteria. ЬЬnodular adj. nodulated adj. nodulation n.
nodulose adj. nodulous adj. [L nodulus dimin. of nodus: see
nodus n. (pl. nodi) a knotty point, a difficulty, a complication in
the plot of a story etc. [L, = knot]
Noel n. Christmas (esp. as a refrain in carols). [F f. L (as
noetic adj. & n. --adj. 1 of the intellect. 2 purely intellectual or
abstract. 3 given to intellectual speculation. --n. (in sing.
or pl.) the science of the intellect. [Gk noetikos f. noetos
intellectual f. noeo apprehend]
nog(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a small block or peg of wood. 2 a snag or
stump on a tree. 3 nogging. --v.tr. (nogged, nogging) 1
secure with nogs. 2 build in the form of nogging. [17th c.:
nog(2) n. 1 Brit. a strong beer brewed in East Anglia. 2 an egg-flip.
[17th c.: orig. unkn.]
noggin n. 1 a small mug. 2 a small measure, usu. ¬ pint, of spirits.
3 sl. the head. [17th c.: orig. unkn.]
nogging n. brickwork or timber braces in a timber frame. [NOG(1) +
Noh n. (also No) traditional Japanese drama with dance and song,
evolved from Shinto rites. [Jap. no]
nohow adv. 1 US in no way; by no means. 2 dial. out of order; out of
noil n. (in sing. or pl.) short wool-combings. [perh. f. OF noel f.
med.L nodellus dimin. of L nodus knot]
noise n. & v. --n. 1 a sound, esp. a loud or unpleasant or undesired
one. 2 a series of loud sounds, esp. shouts; a confused sound
of voices and movements. 3 irregular fluctuations accompanying
a transmitted signal but not relevant to it. 4 (in pl.)
conventional remarks, or speechlike sounds without actual words
(made sympathetic noises). --v. 1 tr. (usu. in passive) make
public; spread abroad (a person's fame or a fact). 2 intr.
archaic make much noise. Ьmake a noise 1 (usu. foll. by about)
talk or complain much. 2 be much talked of; attain notoriety.
noise-maker a device for making a loud noise at a festivity etc.
noise pollution harmful or annoying noise. noises off sounds
made off stage to be heard by the audience of a play. [ME f.
OF, = outcry, disturbance, f. L nausea: see NAUSEA]
noiseless adj. 1 silent. 2 making no avoidable noise. ЬЬnoiselessly
adv. noiselessness n.
noisette n. a small round piece of meat etc. [F, dimin. of noix nut]
noisome adj. literary 1 harmful, noxious. 2 evil-smelling. 3
objectionable, offensive. ЬЬnoisomeness n. [ME f. obs. noy f.
noisy adj. (noisier, noisiest) 1 full of or attended with noise. 2
making or given to making much noise. 3 clamorous, turbulent.
4 (of a colour, garment, etc.) loud, conspicuous. ЬЬnoisily
adv. noisiness n.
n. Law 1 the relinquishment by a plaintiff or prosecutor of all
or part of a suit. 2 the entry of this on record. [L, = refuse
nom. abbr. nominal.
nomad n. & adj. --n. 1 a member of a tribe roaming from place to
place for pasture. 2 a wanderer. --adj. 1 living as a nomad.
2 wandering. ЬЬnomadic adj. nomadically adv. nomadism n.
nomadize v.intr. (also -ise). [F nomade f. L nomas nomad- f.
Gk nomas -ados f. nemo to pasture]
nombril n. Heraldry the point halfway between fess point and the base
of the shield. [F, = navel]
nom de guerre
n. (pl. noms de guerre pronunc. same) an assumed name under
which a person fights, plays, writes, etc. [F, = war-name]
nom de plume
n. (pl. noms de plume pronunc. same) an assumed name under
which a person writes. [formed in E of F words, = pen-name,
after NOM DE GUERRE]
nomen n. an ancient Roman's second name, indicating the gens, as in
Marcus Tullius Cicero. [L, = name]
n. 1 a person's or community's system of names for things. 2
the terminology of a science etc. 3 systematic naming. 4 a
catalogue or register. ЬЬnomenclative adj. nomenclatural adj.
[F f. L nomenclatura f. nomen + calare call]
nominal adj. 1 existing in name only; not real or actual (nominal and
real prices; nominal ruler). 2 (of a sum of money, rent, etc.)
virtually nothing; much below the actual value of a thing. 3 of
or in names (nominal and essential distinctions). 4 consisting
of or giving the names (nominal list of officers). 5 of or as
or like a noun. Ьnominal definition a statement of all that is
connoted in the name of a concept. nominal value the face value
(of a coin, shares, etc.). ЬЬnominally adv. [ME f. F nominal
or L nominalis f. nomen -inis name]
n. Philos. the doctrine that universals or general ideas are
mere names (opp. REALISM). ЬЬnominalist n. nominalistic adj.
[F nominalisme (as NOMINAL)]
v.tr. (also -ise) form a noun from (a verb, adjective, etc.),
e.g. output, truth, from put out, true. ЬЬnominalization n.
nominate v.tr. 1 propose (a candidate) for election. 2 appoint to an
office (a board of six nominated and six elected members). 3
name or appoint (a date or place). 4 mention by name. 5 call
by the name of, designate. ЬЬnominator n. [L nominare nominat-
n. 1 the act or an instance of nominating; the state of being
nominated. 2 the right of nominating for an appointment (have a
nomination at your disposal). [ME f. OF nomination or L
nominatio (as NOMINATE)]
n. & adj. --n. Gram. 1 the case of nouns, pronouns, and
adjectives, expressing the subject of a verb. 2 a word in this
case. --adj. 1 Gram. of or in this case. 2 of, or appointed
by, nomination (as distinct from election). ЬЬnominatival adj.
[ME f. OF nominatif -ive or L nominativus (as NOMINATE), transl.
Gk onomastike (ptosis case)]
nominee n. 1 a person who is nominated for an office or as the
recipient of a grant etc. 2 Commerce a person (not necessarily
the owner) in whose name a stock etc. is registered.
nomogram n. (also nomograph) a graphical presentation of relations
between quantities whereby the value of one may be found by
simple geometrical construction (e.g. drawing a straight line)
from those of others. ЬЬnomographic adj. nomographically adv.
nomography n. [Gk nomo- f. nomos law + -GRAM]
-nomy comb. form denoting an area of knowledge or the laws governing
it (aeronomy; economy).
non- prefix giving the negative sense of words with which it is
combined, esp.: 1 not doing or having or involved with
(non-attendance; non-payment; non-productive). 2 a not of the
kind or class described (non-alcoholic; non-member; non-event).
b forming terms used adjectivally (non-union; non-party). 3 a
lack of (non-access). 4 (with adverbs) not in the way described
(non-aggressively). 5 forming adjectives from verbs, meaning
'that does not' or 'that is not meant to (or to be)' (non-skid;
non-iron). 6 used to form a neutral negative sense when a form
in in- or un- has a special sense or (usu. unfavourable)
connotation (non-controversial; non-effective; non-human). °The
number of words that can be formed with this prefix is
unlimited; consequently only a selection, considered the most
current or semantically noteworthy, can be given here. [from or
after ME no(u)n- f. AF noun-, OF non-, nom- f. L non not]
nona- comb. form nine. [L f. nonus ninth]
n. a person who does not abstain (esp. from alcohol).
n. a lack of acceptance.
n. a lack of access.
adj. (of a drug, habit, etc.) not causing addiction.
nonage n. 1 hist. the state of being under full legal age, minority.
2 a period of immaturity. [ME f. AF nounage, OF nonage (as
n. & adj. --n. a person from 90 to 99 years old. --adj. of
this age. [L nonagenarius f. nonageni distributive of
n. lack of or restraint from aggression (often attrib.:
nonagon n. a plane figure with nine sides and angles. [L nonus ninth,
adj. & n. (of a drink etc.) not containing alcohol.
adj. (of States etc.) not aligned with another (esp. major)
power. ЬЬnon-alignment n.
adj. not causing allergy; not allergic.
adj. not ambiguous. °Neutral in sense: see NON- 6,
n. failure to appear or be present.
non-art n. something that avoids the normal forms of art.
nonary adj. & n. --adj. Math. (of a scale of notation) having nine as
its base. --n. (pl. -ies) a group of nine. [L nonus ninth]
non-Aryan adj. & n. --adj. (of a person or language) not Aryan or of
Aryan descent. --n. a non-Aryan person.
adj. that is not attached. °Neutral in sense: see NON- 6,
n. failure to attend.
adj. that cannot or may not be attributed to a particular
source etc. ЬЬnon-attributably adv.
n. a state of not being available.
n. a person who does not believe or has no (esp. religious)
n. a lack of belligerency.
adj. & n. --adj. not engaged in hostilities. --n. a
non-belligerent nation, State, etc.
adj. not concerned with biology or living organisms.
non-Black adj. & n. --adj. 1 (of a person) not Black. 2 of or relating
to non-Black people. --n. a non-Black person.
adj. not breakable.
adj. (of an offence) not punishable by death.
adj. & n. --adj. not Roman Catholic. --n. a non-Catholic
nonce n. Ьfor the nonce for the time being; for the present occasion.
nonce-word a word coined for one occasion. [ME for than anes
(unrecorded) = for the one, altered by wrong division (cf.
adj. calm and casual, unmoved, unexcited, indifferent.
ЬЬnonchalance n. nonchalantly adv. [F, part. of nonchaloir f.
chaloir be concerned]
adj. & n. --adj. not Christian. --n. a non-Christian person.
n. a person who is not a citizen (of a particular State, town,
adj. (esp. of information) that is not classified. °Neutral in
sense: see NON- 6, UNCLASSIFIED.
adj. not doing or involving clerical work.
adj. 1 not attached to a college. 2 not having colleges.
non-com n. colloq. a non-commissioned officer. [abbr.]
n. a person not fighting in a war, esp. a civilian, army
adj. Mil. (of an officer) not holding a commission.
adj. avoiding commitment to a definite opinion or course of
action. ЬЬnoncommittally adv.
n. a person who is not a communicant (esp. in the religious
adj. that does not communicate.
adj. & n. (also non-Communist with ref. to a particular party)
--adj. not advocating or practising communism. --n. a
n. failure to comply; a lack of compliance.
non compos mentis
adj. (also non compos) not in one's right mind. [L, = not
having control of one's mind]
n. a substance that does not conduct heat or electricity.
adj. not confidential. ЬЬnon-confidentially adv.
n. 1 a person who does not conform to the doctrine or
discipline of an established Church, esp. (Nonconformist) a
member of a (usu. Protestant) sect dissenting from the Anglican
Church. 2 a person who does not conform to a prevailing
principle. ЬЬnonconformism n. Nonconformism n.
n. 1 a nonconformists as a body, esp. (Nonconformity)
Protestants dissenting from the Anglican Church. b the
principles or practice of nonconformists, esp. (Nonconformity)
Protestant dissent. 2 (usu. foll. by to) failure to conform to
a rule etc. 3 lack of correspondence between things.
adj. not contagious.
n. Brit. a negative voter in the House of Lords.
adj. not contentious.
adj. not contributing or (esp. of a pension scheme) involving
adj. not controversial. °Neutral in sense: see NON- 6,
n. failure to cooperate; a lack of cooperation.
n. failure to deliver.
adj. not restricted as regards religious denomination.
adj. & n. --adj. lacking distinctive characteristics, not
easily classified, neither one thing nor another. --n. a
nondescript person or thing. ЬЬnondescriptly adv.
nondescriptness n. [NON- + descript described f. L descriptus
adj. that does not involve destruction or damage.
n. a person who does not drink alcoholic liquor.
n. a person who does not drive a motor vehicle.
none(1) pron., adj., & adv. --pron. 1 (foll. by of) a not any of (none
of this concerns me; none of them have found it; none of your
impudence!). b not any one of (none of them has come). °The
verb following none in this sense can be singular or plural
according to the sense. 2 a no persons (none but fools have
ever believed it). b no person (none can tell). --adj. (usu.
with a preceding noun implied) 1 no; not any (you have money and
I have none; would rather have a bad reputation than none at
all). 2 not to be counted in a specified class (his
understanding is none of the clearest; if a linguist is wanted,
I am none). --adv. (foll. by the + compar., or so, too) by no
amount; not at all (am none the wiser; are none too fond of
him). Ьnone the less nevertheless. none other (usu. foll. by
than) no other person. none-so-pretty London Pride. [OE nan f.
ne not + an ONE]
none(2) n. (also in pl.) 1 the office of the fifth of the canonical
hours of prayer, orig. said at the ninth hour (3 p.m.). 2 this
hour. [F f. L nona fem. sing. of nonus ninth: cf. NOON]
adj. not earning (esp. a regular wage or salary).
adj. that does not have an effect. °Neutral in sense: see NON-
non-ego n. Philos. all that is not the conscious self.
nonentity n. (pl. -ies) 1 a person or thing of no importance. 2 a
non-existence. b a non-existent thing, a figment. [med.L
nones n.pl. in the ancient Roman calendar, the ninth day before the
ides by inclusive reckoning, i.e. the 7th day of March, May,
July, October, the 5th of other months. [OF nones f. L nonae
fem. pl. of nonus ninth]
adj. not essential. °Neutral in sense: see NON- 6,
nonesuch var. of NONSUCH.
nonet n. 1 Mus. a a composition for nine voices or instruments. b
the performers of such a piece. 2 a group of nine. [It.
nonetto f. nono ninth f. L nonus]
var. of none the less.
adj. denying or going beyond Euclidean principles in geometry.
adj. & n. --adj. not European. --n. a non-European person.
non-event n. an unimportant or anticlimactic occurrence.
adj. not existing. ЬЬnon-existence n.
adj. (of a substance) that does not explode.
adj. (of food) that does not fatten.
n. failure to perform an act required by law. [NON-: see
adj. (of a metal) other than iron or steel.
n. literary work other than fiction, including biography and
reference books. ЬЬnon-fictional adj.
non-flam adj. = NON-FLAMMABLE.
adj. not inflammable.
n. failure to fulfil (an obligation).
adj. not having a function.
nong n. Austral. sl. a foolish or stupid person. [20th c.: orig.
adj. not belonging to or associated with a government.
non-human adj. & n. --adj. (of a being) not human. --n. a non-human
being. °Neutral in sense: see NON- 6, INHUMAN, UNHUMAN.
adj. (of a disease) not infectious.
adj. (of a language) not having inflections.
n. a lack of interference.
n. the principle or practice of not becoming involved in
others' affairs, esp. by one State in regard to another.
adj. (of drink) not causing intoxication.
non-iron adj. (of a fabric) that needs no ironing.
n. Law the failure of a partner etc. to become a party to a
nonjuror n. a person who refuses to take an oath, esp. hist. a member
of the clergy refusing to take the oath of allegiance to William
and Mary in 1689. ЬЬnonjuring adj.
non-jury adj. (of a trial) without a jury.
adj. not linear, esp. with regard to dimension.
adj. (of writing, a text, etc.) not literary in character.
adj. not involving logic. °Neutral in sense: see NON- 6,
ILLOGICAL. ЬЬnon-logically adv.
adj. (of a substance) not magnetic.
n. a person who is not a member (of a particular association,
club, etc.). ЬЬnon-membership n.
non-metal adj. not made of metal. ЬЬnon-metallic adj.
adj. not militant.
adj. not military; not involving armed forces, civilian.
adj. not ministerial (esp. in political senses).
non-moral adj. not concerned with morality. °Neutral in sense: see NON-
6, AMORAL, IMMORAL. ЬЬnon-morally adv.
adj. not involving natural means or processes. °Neutral in
sense: see NON- 6, UNNATURAL.
adj. that cannot be negotiated (esp. in financial senses).
non-net adj. (of a book) not subject to a minimum selling price.
adj. 1 not involving nuclei or nuclear energy. 2 (of a State
etc.) not having nuclear weapons.
n. failure to observe (esp. an agreement, requirement, etc.).
adj. 1 that does not operate. 2 out of order.
adj. not organic. °Neutral in sense: see NON- 6, INORGANIC.
nonpareil adj. & n. --adj. unrivalled or unique. --n. such a person or
thing. [F f. pareil equal f. pop.L pariculus dimin. of L par]
adj. not taking part.
adj. not partisan.
non-party adj. independent of political parties.
n. failure to pay; a lack of payment.
n. a person regarded as non-existent or insignificant (cf.
adj. not personal. °Neutral in sense: see NON- 6, IMPERSONAL.
adj. not physical. ЬЬnon-physically adv.
n. a negative vote in a Church or university assembly. [L, =
it does not please]
adj. that does not play or take part (in a game etc.).
nonplus v. & n. --v.tr. (nonplussed, nonplussing) completely perplex.
--n. a state of perplexity, a standstill (at a nonplus; reduce
to a nonplus). [L non plus not more]
adj. (of a substance) not poisonous.
adj. not political; not involved in politics.
adj. (of a substance) not porous.
n. a statement of inability to act in a matter. [L, = we
adj. not productive. °Neutral in sense: see NON- 6,
UNPRODUCTIVE. ЬЬnon-productively adv.
adj. not professional (esp. in status). °Neutral in sense: see
NON- 6, UNPROFESSIONAL.
adj. not involving or making a profit.
adj. (of an enterprise) not conducted primarily to make a
n. the prevention of an increase in something, esp. possession
of nuclear weapons.
adj. not involving race or racial factors.
n. a person who cannot read.
adj. & n. --adj. 1 not residing in a particular place, esp.
(of a member of the clergy) not residing where his or her duties
require. 2 (of a post) not requiring the holder to reside at
the place of work. --n. a non-resident person, esp. a person
using some of the facilities of a hotel. ЬЬnon-residence n.
n. failure to resist; a lack of resistance.
adj. that may or need or will not be returned.
non-rigid adj. (esp. of materials) not rigid.
adj. not involving science or scientific methods. °Neutral in
sense: see NON- 6, UNSCIENTIFIC. ЬЬnon-scientist n.
adj. not sectarian.
nonsense n. 1 a (often as int.) absurd or meaningless words or ideas;
foolish or extravagant conduct. b an instance of this. 2 a
scheme, arrangement, etc., that one disapproves of. 3 (often
attrib.) a form of literature meant to amuse by absurdity
(nonsense verse). ЬЬnonsensical adj. nonsensicality n. (pl.
-ies). nonsensically adv.
n. a conclusion that does not logically follow from the
premisses. [L, = it does not follow]
adj. not based on or involving sex. ЬЬnon-sexually adv.
non-skid adj. 1 that does not skid. 2 that inhibits skidding.
non-slip adj. 1 that does not slip. 2 that inhibits slipping.
n. 1 a person who does not smoke. 2 a train compartment etc.
in which smoking is forbidden. ЬЬnon-smoking adj. & n.
adj. (esp. of a substance) not soluble. °Neutral in sense: see
NON- 6, INSOLUBLE.
n. a person who is not a specialist (in a particular subject).
adj. that cannot be specified.
adj. not standard.
n. 1 a person or animal that does not start in a race. 2
colloq. a person or thing that is unlikely to succeed or be
non-stick adj. 1 that does not stick. 2 that does not allow things to
stick to it.
non-stop adj., adv., & n. --adj. 1 (of a train etc.) not stopping at
intermediate places. 2 (of a journey, performance, etc.) done
without a stop or intermission. --adv. without stopping or
pausing. --n. a non-stop train etc.
n. a person who is not a subscriber.
nonsuch n. (also nonesuch) 1 a person or thing that is unrivalled, a
paragon. 2 a leguminous plant, Medicago lupulina, with black
pods. [NONE(1) + SUCH, usu. now assim. to NON-]
nonsuit n. & v. Law --n. the stoppage of a suit by the judge when the
plaintiff fails to make out a legal case or to bring sufficient
evidence. --v.tr. subject (a plaintiff) to a nonsuit. [ME f.
n. a person who cannot swim.
adj. 1 not technical. 2 without technical knowledge.
non-toxic adj. not toxic.
adj. that may not be transferred.
non-U adj. colloq. not characteristic of the upper class. [NON- +
adj. not uniform.
non-union adj. 1 not belonging to a trade union. 2 not done or produced
by members of a trade union.
non-usage n. failure to use.
non-use n. failure to use.
non-user n. Law the failure to use a right, by which it may be lost.
[AF nounuser (unrecorded) (as NON-, USER)]
adj. not involving words or speech. ЬЬnon-verbally adv.
adj. (of wine etc.) not vintage.
n. the avoidance of violence, esp. as a principle.
adj. (esp. of a substance) not volatile.
adj. not having or using a vote. ЬЬnon-voter n.
non-White adj. & n. --adj. 1 (of a person) not White. 2 of or relating
to non-White people. --n. a non-White person.
non-word n. an unrecorded or unused word.
noodle(1) n. a strip or ring of pasta. [G Nudel]
noodle(2) n. 1 a simpleton. 2 sl. the head. [18th c.: orig. unkn.]
nook n. a corner or recess; a secluded place. [ME nok(e) corner, of
nooky n. (also nookie) sl. sexual intercourse. [20th c.: perh. f.
noon n. 1 twelve o'clock in the day, midday. 2 the culminating
point. [OE non f. L nona (hora) ninth hour: orig. = 3 p.m. (cf.
noonday n. midday.
no one n. no person; nobody.
noontide n. (also noontime) midday.
noose n. & v. --n. 1 a loop with a running knot, tightening as the
rope or wire is pulled, esp. in a snare, lasso, or hangman's
halter. 2 a snare or bond. 3 joc. the marriage tie. --v.tr.
1 catch with or enclose in a noose, ensnare. 2 a make a noose
on (a cord). b (often foll. by round) arrange (a cord) in a
noose. Ьput one's head in a noose bring about one's own
downfall. [ME nose, perh. f. OF no(u)s f. L nodus knot]
nopal n. any American cactus of the genus Nopalea, esp. N.
cochinellifera grown in plantations for breeding cochineal. [F
& Sp. f. Nahuatl nopalli cactus]
nope adv. colloq. = NO(2) adv. 1. [NO(2)]
nor conj. 1 and not; and not either (neither one thing nor the
other; not a man nor a child was to be seen; I said I had not
seen it, nor had I; all that is true, nor must we forget ...;
can neither read nor write). 2 and no more; neither ('I cannot
go' - 'Nor can I'). Ьnor ... nor ... poet. or archaic neither
... nor ... [ME, contr. f. obs. nother f. OE nawther,
nahw‘ther (as NO(2), WHETHER)]
nor' n., adj., & adv. (esp. in compounds) = NORTH (nor'ward;
n. (also noradrenaline) a hormone released by the adrenal
medulla and by sympathetic nerve endings as a neurotransmitter.
[normal + ADRENALIN]
Nordic adj. & n. --adj. 1 of or relating to the tall blond
dolichocephalic Germanic people found in N. Europe, esp. in
Scandinavia. 2 of or relating to Scandinavia or Finland. 3 (of
skiing) with cross-country work and jumping. --n. a Nordic
person, esp. a native of Scandinavia or Finland. [F nordique f.
n. a man's loose belted jacket, with box pleats. [Norfolk in
nork n. (usu. in pl.) Austral. sl. a woman's breast. [20th c.:
norland n. Brit. a northern region. [contr. of NORTHLAND]
norm n. 1 a standard or pattern or type. 2 a standard quantity to
be produced or amount of work to be done. 3 customary behaviour
etc. [L norma carpenter's square]
normal adj. & n. --adj. 1 conforming to a standard; regular, usual,
typical. 2 free from mental or emotional disorder. 3 Geom. (of
a line) at right angles, perpendicular. 4 Chem. (of a solution)
containing one gram-equivalent of solute per litre. --n. 1 a
the normal value of a temperature etc., esp. blood-heat. b the
usual state, level, etc. 2 Geom. a line at right angles.
Ьnormal distribution Statistics a function that represents the
distribution of many random variables as a symmetrical
bell-shaped graph. normal school (in the US, France, etc.) a
school or college for training teachers. ЬЬnormalcy n. esp.
US. normality n. [F normal or L normalis (as NORM)]
normalize v. (also -ise) 1 tr. make normal. 2 intr. become normal. 3
tr. cause to conform. ЬЬnormalization n. normalizer n.
normally adv. 1 in a normal manner. 2 usually.
Norman n. & adj. --n. 1 a native or inhabitant of Normandy. 2 a
descendant of the people of mixed Scandinavian and Frankish
origin established there in the 10th c., who conquered England
in 1066. 3 Norman French. 4 Archit. the style of Romanesque
architecture found in Britain under the Normans. 5 any of the
English kings from William I to Stephen. --adj. 1 of or
relating to the Normans. 2 of or relating to the Norman style
of architecture. ЬNorman Conquest see CONQUEST. Norman English
English as spoken or influenced by the Normans. Norman French
French as spoken by the Normans or (after 1066) in English
lawcourts. ЬЬNormanesque adj. Normanism n. Normanize v.tr. &
intr. (also -ise). [OF Normans pl. of Normant f. ON Northmathr
(as NORTH, MAN)]
normative adj. of or establishing a norm. ЬЬnormatively adv.
normativeness n. [F normatif -ive f. L norma (see NORM)]
Norn n. any of three goddesses of destiny in Scandinavian mythology.
[ON: orig. unkn.]
Norroy n. (in full Norroy and Ulster) Heraldry (in the UK) the title
given to the third King of Arms, with jurisdiction north of the
Trent and (since 1943) in N. Ireland (cf. CLARENCEUX, King of
Arms). [ME f. AF norroi (unrecorded) f. OF nord north, roi
Norse n. & adj. --n. 1 a the Norwegian language. b the Scandinavian
language-group. 2 (prec. by the; treated as pl.) a the
Norwegians. b the Vikings. --adj. of ancient Scandinavia, esp.
Norway. ЬOld Norse 1 the Germanic language from which the
Scandinavian languages are derived. 2 the language of Norway
and its colonies until the 14th c. ЬЬNorseman n. (pl. -men).
[Du. noor(d)sch f. noord north]
north n., adj., & adv. --n. 1 a the point of the horizon 90ш
anticlockwise from east. b the compass point corresponding to
this. c the direction in which this lies. 2 (usu. the North)
a the part of the world or a country or a town lying to the
north, esp. = north country or Northern States. b the Arctic.
c the industrialized nations. 3 (North) Bridge a player
occupying the position designated 'north'. --adj. 1 towards,
at, near, or facing north. 2 coming from the north (north
wind). --adv. 1 towards, at, or near the north. 2 (foll. by
of) further north than. ЬNorth American adj. of North America.
--n. a native or inhabitant of North America, esp. a citizen of
the US or Canada. north and south lengthwise along a line from
north to south. north by east (or west) between north and
north-north-east (or north-north-west). north country the
northern part of England (north of the Humber).
North-countryman (pl. -men) a native of the north country.
north-east n. 1 the point of the horizon midway between north
and east. 2 the compass point corresponding to this. 3 the
direction in which this lies. --adj. of, towards, or coming
from the north-east. --adv. towards, at, or near the
north-east. North-East the part of a country or town lying to
the north-east. north-easterly adj. & adv. = north-east.
north-eastern lying on the north-east side. north-east passage
a passage for ships along the northern coast of Europe and Asia,
formerly thought of as a possible route to the East. north
light light from the north, esp. as desired by painters and in
factory design. north-north-east the point or direction midway
between north and north-east. north-north-west the point or
direction midway between north and north-west. North Pole 1 the
northernmost point of the earth's axis of rotation. 2 the
northernmost point about which the stars appear to revolve.
North Sea the sea between Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, and
Scandinavia. North Star the polestar. north-west n. 1 the
point of the horizon midway between north and west. 2 the
compass point corresponding to this. 3 the direction in which
this lies. --adj. of, towards, or coming from the north-west.
--adv. towards, at, or near the north-west. North-West the part
of a country or town lying to the north-west. north-westerly
adj. & adv. = north-west. north-western lying on the north-west
side. north-west passage a passage for ships along the northern
coast of America, formerly thought of as a possible route from
the Atlantic to the Pacific. to the north (often foll. by of)
in a northerly direction. [OE f. Gmc]
Northants abbr. Northamptonshire.
adj. travelling or leading northwards.
n. a north-east wind.
norther n. US a strong cold north wind blowing in autumn and winter
over Texas, Florida, and the Gulf of Mexico.
northerly adj., adv., & n. --adj. & adv. 1 in a northern position or
direction. 2 (of wind) blowing from the north. --n. (pl.
-ies) (usu. in pl.) a wind blowing from the north.
northern adj. 1 of or in the north; inhabiting the north. 2 lying or
directed towards the north. ЬNorthern hemisphere the half of
the earth north of the equator. northern lights the aurora
borealis. Northern States the States in the north of the US.
ЬЬnorthernmost adj. [OE northerne (as NORTH, -ERN)]
n. a native or inhabitant of the north.
northing n. Naut. the distance travelled or measured northward.
Northland n. poet. the northern lands; the northern part of a country.
[OE (as NORTH, LAND)]
Northman n. (pl. -men) a native of Scandinavia, esp. of Norway. [OE]
Northumb. abbr. Northumberland.
adj. & n. --adj. of or relating to ancient Northumbria (England
north of the Humber) or modern Northumberland. --n. 1 a native
of ancient Northumbria or modern Northumberland. 2 the dialect
of ancient Northumbria or modern Northumberland. [obs.
Northumber, persons living beyond the Humber, f. OE Northhymbre]
northward adj., adv., & n. --adj. & adv. (also northwards) towards the
north. --n. a northward direction or region.
n. a north-west wind.
n. a small European lobster, Nephrops norvegicus. [Norway in
n. the common brown rat, Rattus norvegicus.
Norwegian n. & adj. --n. 1 a a native or national of Norway. b a person
of Norwegian descent. 2 the language of Norway. --adj. of or
relating to Norway or its people or language. [med.L Norvegia
f. ON Norvegr (as NORTH, WAY), assim. to Norway]
n. 1 a northwester. 2 a glass of strong liquor. 3 an oilskin
hat, a sou'wester. [contr.]
Nos. abbr. numbers. [cf. NO.]
nose n. & v. --n. 1 an organ above the mouth on the face or head of
a human or animal, containing nostrils and used for smelling and
breathing. 2 a the sense of smell (dogs have a good nose). b
the ability to detect a particular thing (a nose for scandal).
3 the odour or perfume of wine, tea, tobacco, hay, etc. 4 the
open end or nozzle of a tube, pipe, pair of bellows, retort,
etc. 5 a the front end or projecting part of a thing, e.g. of a
car or aircraft. b = NOSING. 6 sl. an informer of the police.
--v. 1 tr. (often foll. by out) a perceive the smell of,
discover by smell. b detect. 2 tr. thrust or rub one's nose
against or into, esp. in order to smell. 3 intr. (usu. foll. by
about, around, etc.) pry or search. 4 a intr. make one's way
cautiously forward. b tr. make (one's or its way). Ьas plain
as the nose on your face easily seen. by a nose by a very
narrow margin (won the race by a nose). count noses count those
present, one's supporters, etc.; decide a question by mere
numbers. cut off one's nose to spite one's face disadvantage
oneself in the course of trying to disadvantage another. get up
a person's nose sl. annoy a person. keep one's nose clean sl.
stay out of trouble, behave properly. keep one's nose to the
grindstone see GRINDSTONE. nose-cone the cone-shaped nose of a
rocket etc. nose-flute a musical instrument blown with the nose
in Fiji etc. nose leaf a fleshy part on the nostrils of some
bats, used for echo location. nose-monkey the proboscis monkey.
nose-piece 1 = NOSEBAND. 2 the part of a helmet etc. protecting
the nose. 3 the part of a microscope to which the object-glass
is attached. nose-rag sl. a pocket handkerchief. nose-to-tail
(of vehicles) moving or stationary one close behind another,
esp. in heavy traffic. nose-wheel a landing-wheel under the
nose of an aircraft. on the nose 1 US sl. precisely. 2
Austral. sl. annoying. put a person's nose out of joint
colloq. embarrass, disconcert, frustrate, or supplant a person.
rub a person's nose in it see RUB. see no further than one's
nose be short-sighted, esp. in foreseeing the consequences of
one's actions etc. speak through one's nose pronounce words
with a nasal twang. turn up one's nose (usu. foll. by at)
colloq. show disdain. under a person's nose colloq. right
before a person (esp. of defiant or unnoticed actions). with
one's nose in the air haughtily. ЬЬnosed adj. (also in comb.).
noseless adj. [OE nosu]
nosebag n. a bag containing fodder, hung on a horse's head.
noseband n. the lower band of a bridle, passing over the horse's nose.
nosebleed n. an instance of bleeding from the nose.
nosedive n. & v. --n. 1 a steep downward plunge by an aeroplane. 2 a
sudden plunge or drop. --v.intr. make a nosedive.
nosegay n. a bunch of flowers, esp. a sweet-scented posy. [NOSE + GAY
in obs. use = ornament]
nosepipe n. a piece of piping used as a nozzle.
nosering n. a ring fixed in the nose of an animal (esp. a bull) for
leading it, or of a person for ornament.
nosey var. of NOSY.
nosh v. & n. sl. --v.tr. & intr. 1 eat or drink. 2 US eat between
meals. --n. 1 food or drink. 2 US a snack. Ьnosh-up Brit. a
large meal. [Yiddish]
noshery n. (pl. -ies) sl. a restaurant or snack bar.
nosing n. a rounded edge of a step, moulding, etc., or a metal shield
n. the systematic description of diseases. [Gk nosos disease +
nosology n. the branch of medical science dealing with the
classification of diseases. ЬЬnosological adj. [Gk nosos
disease + -LOGY]
nostalgia n. 1 (often foll. by for) sentimental yearning for a period of
the past. 2 regretful or wistful memory of an earlier time. 3
severe homesickness. ЬЬnostalgic adj. nostalgically adv.
[mod.L f. Gk nostos return home]
nostoc n. any gelatinous blue-green unicellular alga of the genus
Nostoc, that can fix nitrogen from the atmosphere. [name
invented by Paracelsus]
n. a person who claims to foretell future events. [Latinized
form of the name of M. de Nostredame, French astrologer and
physician d. 1566]
nostril n. either of two external openings of the nasal cavity in
vertebrates that admit air to the lungs and smells to the
olfactory nerves. ЬЬnostrilled adj. (also in comb.). [OE
nosthyrl, nosterl f. nosu NOSE + thyr(e)l hole: cf. THRILL]
nostrum n. 1 a quack remedy, a patent medicine, esp. one prepared by
the person recommending it. 2 a pet scheme, esp. for political
or social reform. [L, neut. of noster our, used in sense 'of
our own make']
nosy adj. & n. (also nosey) --adj. (nosier, nosiest) 1 colloq.
inquisitve, prying. 2 having a large nose. 3 having a
distinctive (good or bad) smell. --n. (pl. -ies) a person
with a large nose. ЬNosy Parker esp. Brit. colloq. a
busybody. ЬЬnosily adv. nosiness n.
not adv. expressing negation, esp.: 1 (also n't joined to a
preceding verb) following an auxiliary verb or be or (in a
question) the subject of such a verb (I cannot say; she isn't
there; didn't you tell me?; am I not right?; aren't we smart?).
°Use with other verbs is now archaic (I know not; fear not),
except with participles and infinitives (not knowing, I cannot
say; we asked them not to come). 2 used elliptically for a
negative sentence or verb or phrase (Is she coming? -- I hope
not; Do you want it? -- Certainly not!). 3 used to express the
negative of other words (not a single one was left; Are they
pleased? - Not they; he is not my cousin, but my nephew). Ьnot
at all (in polite reply to thanks) there is no need for thanks.
not but what archaic 1 all the same; nevertheless (I cannot do
it; not but what a stronger man might). 2 not such ... or so
... that ... not (not such a fool but what he can see it). not
half see HALF. not least with considerable importance, notably.
not much see MUCH. not quite 1 almost (am not quite there). 2
noticeably not (not quite proper). not that (foll. by clause)
it is not to be inferred that (if he said so - not that he ever
did - he lied). not a thing nothing at all. not very see VERY.
[ME contr. of NOUGHT]
nota bene v.tr. (as imper.) observe what follows, take notice (usu.
drawing attention to a following qualification of what has
preceded). [L, = note well]
n. (pl. -ies) 1 the state of being notable (names of no
historical notability). 2 a prominent person. [ME f. OF
notabilit‚ or LL notabilitas (as NOTABLE)]
notable adj. & n. --adj. worthy of note; striking, remarkable, eminent.
--n. an eminent person. ЬЬnotableness n. notably adv. [ME f.
OF f. L notabilis (as NOTE)]
notarize v.tr. (also -ise) US certify (a document) as a notary.
notary n. (pl. -ies) (in full notary public) a person authorized to
perform certain legal formalities, esp. to draw up or certify
contracts, deeds, etc. ЬЬnotarial adj. notarially adv. [ME f.
L notarius secretary (as NOTE)]
notate v.tr. write in notation. [back-form. f. NOTATION]
notation n. 1 a the representation of numbers, quantities, pitch and
duration etc. of musical notes, etc. by symbols. b any set of
such symbols. 2 a set of symbols used to represent chess moves,
dance steps, etc. 3 US a a note or annotation. b a record. 4
= scale of notation (see SCALE(3)). ЬЬnotational adj. [F
notation or L notatio (as NOTE)]
notch n. & v. --n. 1 a V-shaped indentation on an edge or surface.
2 a nick made on a stick etc. in order to keep count. 3 colloq.
a step or degree (move up a notch). 4 US a deep gorge. --v.tr.
1 make notches in. 2 (foll. by up) record or score with or as
with notches. 3 secure or insert by notches. ЬЬnotched adj.
notcher n. notchy adj. (notchier, notchiest). [AF noche perh.
f. a verbal form nocher (unrecorded), of uncert. orig.]
note n. & v. --n. 1 a brief record of facts, topics, thoughts,
etc., as an aid to memory, for use in writing, public speaking,
etc. (often in pl.: make notes; spoke without notes). 2 an
observation, usu. unwritten, of experiences etc. (compare
notes). 3 a short or informal letter. 4 a formal diplomatic or
parliamentary communication. 5 a short annotation or additional
explanation in a book etc.; a footnote. 6 a Brit. = BANKNOTE (a
five-pound note). b a written promise or notice of payment of
various kinds. 7 a notice, attention (worthy of note). b
distinction, eminence (a person of note). 8 a a written sign
representing the pitch and duration of a musical sound. b a
single tone of definite pitch made by a musical instrument, the
human voice, etc. c a key of a piano etc. 9 a a bird's song or
call. b a single tone in this. 10 a quality or tone of
speaking, expressing mood or attitude etc. (sound a note of
warning; ended on a note of optimism). 11 a characteristic; a
distinguishing feature. --v.tr. 1 observe, notice; give or
draw attention to. 2 (often foll. by down) record as a thing to
be remembered or observed. 3 (in passive; often foll. by for)
be famous or well known (for a quality, activity, etc.) (were
noted for their generosity). Ьhit (or strike) the right note
speak or act in exactly the right manner. of note important,
distinguished (a person of note). take note (often foll. by of)
observe; pay attention (to). ЬЬnoted adj. (in sense 3 of v.).
noteless adj. [ME f. OF note (n.), noter (v.) f. L nota mark]
notebook n. a small book for making or taking notes.
notecase n. a wallet for holding banknotes.
notelet n. a small folded sheet of paper, usu. with a decorative
design, for an informal letter.
notepaper n. paper for writing letters.
adj. worthy of attention; remarkable. ЬЬnoteworthiness n.
nothing n. & adv. --n. 1 not anything (nothing has been done; have
nothing to do). 2 no thing (often foll. by compl.: I see
nothing that I want; can find nothing useful). 3 a a person or
thing of no importance or concern; a trivial event or remark
(was nothing to me; the little nothings of life). b (attrib.)
colloq. of no value; indeterminate (a nothing sort of day). 4
non-existence; what does not exist. 5 (in calculations) no
amount; nought (a third of nothing is nothing). --adv. 1 not
at all, in no way (helps us nothing; is nothing like enough). 2
US colloq. not at all (Is he ill? -- Ill nothing, he's dead.).
Ьbe nothing to 1 not concern. 2 not compare with. be (or have)
nothing to do with 1 have no connection with. 2 not be involved
or associated with. for nothing 1 at no cost; without payment.
2 to no purpose. have nothing on 1 be naked. 2 have no
engagements. no nothing colloq. (concluding a list of
negatives) nothing at all. nothing doing colloq. 1 a there is
no prospect of success or agreement. b I refuse. 2 nothing is
happening. nothing (or nothing else) for it (often foll. by but
to + infin.) no alternative (nothing for it but to pay up).
nothing (or not much) in it (or to it) 1 untrue or unimportant.
2 simple to do. 3 no (or little) advantage to be seen in one
possibility over another. nothing less than at least (nothing
less than a disaster). think nothing of it do not apologize or
feel bound to show gratitude. [OE nan thing (as NO(1), THING)]
n. 1 non-existence; the non-existent. 2 worthlessness,
notice n. & v. --n. 1 attention, observation (it escaped my notice).
2 a displayed sheet etc. bearing an announcement or other
information. 3 a an intimation or warning, esp. a formal one to
allow preparations to be made (give notice; at a moment's
notice). b (often foll. by to + infin.) a formal announcement
or declaration of intention to end an agreement or leave
employment at a specified time (hand in one's notice; notice to
quit). 4 a short published review or comment about a new play,
book, etc. --v.tr. 1 (often foll. by that, how, etc. + clause)
perceive, observe; take notice of. 2 remark upon; speak of.
Ьat short (or a moment's) notice with little warning.
notice-board Brit. a board for displaying notices. take notice
(or no notice) show signs (or no signs) of interest. take
notice of 1 observe; pay attention to. 2 act upon. under
notice served with a formal notice. [ME f. OF f. L notitia
being known f. notus past part. of noscere know]
adj. 1 easily seen or noticed; perceptible. 2 noteworthy.
adj. (of a disease) that must be notified to the health
notify v.tr. (-ies, -ied) 1 (often foll. by of, or that + clause)
inform or give notice to (a person). 2 make known; announce or
report (a thing). ЬЬnotification n. [ME f. OF notifier f. L
notificare f. notus known: see NOTICE]
notion n. 1 a a concept or idea; a conception (it was an absurd
notion). b an opinion (has the notion that people are honest).
c a vague view or understanding (have no notion what you mean).
2 an inclination, impulse, or intention (has no notion of
conforming). 3 (in pl.) small, useful articles, esp.
haberdashery. [L notio idea f. notus past part. of noscere
notional adj. 1 a hypothetical, imaginary. b (of knowledge etc.)
speculative; not based on experiment etc. 2 Gram. (of a verb)
conveying its own meaning, not auxiliary. ЬЬnotionally adv.
[obs. F notional or med.L notionalis (as NOTION)]
notochord n. a cartilaginous skeletal rod supporting the body in all
embryo and some adult chordate animals. [Gk noton back +
notorious adj. well known, esp. unfavourably (a notorious criminal;
notorious for its climate). ЬЬnotoriety n. notoriously adv.
[med.L notorius f. L notus (as NOTION)]
notornis n. a rare flightless New Zealand bird, Porphyrio mantelli, with
a large bill and brightly coloured plumage. Also called TAKAHE.
[Gk notos south + ornis bird]
Notts. abbr. Nottinghamshire.
prep., adv., & conj. --prep. in spite of; without prevention by
(notwithstanding your objections; this fact notwithstanding).
--adv. nevertheless; all the same. --conj. (usu. foll. by that
+ clause) although. [ME, orig. absol. part. f. NOT + WITHSTAND
nougat n. a sweet made from sugar or honey, nuts, and egg-white. [F
f. Prov. nogat f. noga nut]
nought n. 1 the digit 0; a cipher. 2 poet. or archaic (in certain
phrases) nothing (cf. NAUGHT). Ьnoughts and crosses a
paper-and-pencil game with a square grid of nine squares, in
which players seek to complete a row of three noughts or three
crosses entered alternately. [OE nowiht f. ne not + owiht var.
of awiht AUGHT(1)]
noun n. Gram. a word (other than a pronoun) or group of words used
to name or identify any of a class of persons, places, or things
(common noun), or a particular one of these (proper noun).
ЬЬnounal adj. [ME f. AF f. L nomen name]
nourish v.tr. 1 a sustain with food. b enrich; promote the development
of (the soil etc.). c provide with intellectual or emotional
sustenance or enrichment. 2 foster or cherish (a feeling etc.).
ЬЬnourisher n. [ME f. OF norir f. L nutrire]
adj. (esp. of food) containing much nourishment; sustaining.
n. sustenance, food.
nous n. 1 colloq. common sense; gumption. 2 Philos. the mind or
n. (pl. nouveaux riches pronunc. same) a person who has
recently acquired (usu. ostentatious) wealth. [F, = new rich]
n. a modern style of cookery avoiding heaviness and emphasizing
presentation. [F, = new cookery]
n. a new trend, esp. in French film-making of the early 1960s.
[F, fem. of nouveau new + vague wave]
Nov. abbr. November.
nova n. (pl. novae or novas) a star showing a sudden large increase
of brightness and then subsiding. [L, fem. of novus new,
because orig. thought to be a new star]
novel(1) n. 1 a fictitious prose story of book length. 2 (prec. by the)
this type of literature. [It. novella (storia story) fem. of
novello new f. L novellus f. novus]
novel(2) adj. of a new kind or nature; strange; previously unknown.
ЬЬnovelly adv. [ME f. OF f. L novellus f. novus new]
novelese n. derog. a style characteristic of inferior novels.
novelette n. 1 a a short novel. b Brit. derog. a light romantic novel.
2 Mus. a piano piece in free form with several themes.
adj. derog. in the style of a light romantic novel;
novelist n. a writer of novels. ЬЬnovelistic adj.
novelize v.tr. (also -ise) make into a novel. ЬЬnovelization n.
novella n. (pl. novellas) a short novel or narrative story; a tale.
[It.: see NOVEL(1)]
novelty n. & adj. --n. (pl. -ies) 1 a newness; new character. b
originality. 2 a new or unusual thing or occurrence. 3 a small
toy or decoration etc. of novel design. 4 (attrib.) having
novelty (novelty toys). [ME f. OF novelt‚ (as NOVEL(2))]
November n. the eleventh month of the year. [ME f. OF novembre f. L
November f. novem nine (orig. the ninth month of the Roman
novena n. RC Ch. a devotion consisting of special prayers or services
on nine successive days. [med.L f. L novem nine]
novice n. 1 a a probationary member of a religious order, before the
taking of vows. b a new convert. 2 a beginner; an
inexperienced person. 3 an animal that has not won a major
prize in a competition. [ME f. OF f. L novicius f. novus new]
noviciate n. (also novitiate) 1 the period of being a novice. 2 a
religious novice. 3 novices' quarters. [F noviciat or med.L
noviciatus (as NOVICE)]
Novocaine n. (also novocaine) propr. a local anaesthetic derived from
benzoic acid. [L novus new + COCAINE]
now adv., conj., & n. --adv. 1 at the present or mentioned time.
2 immediately (I must go now). 3 by this or that time (it was
now clear). 4 under the present circumstances (I cannot now
agree). 5 on this further occasion (what do you want now?). 6
in the immediate past (just now). 7 (esp. in a narrative or
discourse) then, next (the police now arrived; now to consider
the next point). 8 (without reference to time, giving various
tones to a sentence) surely, I insist, I wonder, etc. (now what
do you mean by that?; oh come now!). --conj. (often foll. by
that + clause) as a consequence of the fact (now that I am
older; now you mention it). --n. this time; the present (should
be there by now; has happened before now). Ьas of now from or
at this time. for now until a later time (goodbye for now).
now and again (or then) from time to time; intermittently. now
or never an expression of urgency. [OE nu]
nowadays adv. & n. --adv. at the present time or age; in these times.
--n. the present time.
noway adv. = NOWISE; (see no way).
Nowel (also Nowell) archaic var. of NOEL.
nowhere adv. & pron. --adv. in or to no place. --pron. no place. Ьbe
(or come in) nowhere be unplaced in a race or competition. come
from nowhere be suddenly evident or successful. get nowhere
make or cause to make no progress. in the middle of nowhere
colloq. remote from urban life. nowhere near not nearly. [OE
nahw‘r (as NO(1), WHERE)]
nowise adv. in no manner; not at all.
nowt n. colloq. or dial. nothing. [var. of NOUGHT]
noxious adj. harmful, unwholesome. ЬЬnoxiously adv. noxiousness n.
[f. L noxius f. noxa harm]
noyau n. (pl. noyaux) a liqueur of brandy flavoured with
fruit-kernels. [F, = kernel, ult. f. L nux nucis nut]
nozzle n. a spout on a hose etc. from which a jet issues. [NOSE +
nu n. the thirteenth letter of the Greek alphabet (N). [Gk]
nuance n. & v. --n. a subtle difference in or shade of meaning,
feeling, colour, etc. --v.tr. give a nuance or nuances to. [F
f. nuer to shade, ult. f. L nubes cloud]
nub n. 1 the point or gist (of a matter or story). 2 a small lump,
esp. of coal. 3 a stub; a small residue. ЬЬnubby adj. [app.
var. of knub, f. MLG knubbe, knobbe KNOB]
nubble n. a small knob or lump. ЬЬnubbly adj. [dimin. of NUB]
nubile adj. (of a woman) marriageable or sexually attractive.
ЬЬnubility [L nubilis f. nubere become the wife of]
nuchal adj. of or relating to the nape of the neck. [nucha nape f.
med.L nucha medulla oblongata f. Arab. nuka' spinal marrow]
nuci- comb. form nut. [L nux nucis nut]
adj. Bot. bearing nuts.
nuclear adj. 1 of, relating to, or constituting a nucleus. 2 using
nuclear energy (nuclear reactor). 3 having nuclear weapons.
Ьnuclear bomb a bomb involving the release of energy by nuclear
fission or fusion or both. nuclear disarmament the gradual or
total reduction by a State of its nuclear weapons. nuclear
energy energy obtained by nuclear fission or fusion. nuclear
family a couple and their children, regarded as a basic social
unit. nuclear fission a nuclear reaction in which a heavy
nucleus splits spontaneously or on impact with another particle,
with the release of energy. nuclear force a strong attractive
force between nucleons in the atomic nucleus that holds the
nucleus together. nuclear-free free from nuclear weapons,
power, etc. nuclear fuel a substance that will sustain a
fission chain reaction so that it can be used as a source of
nuclear energy. nuclear fusion a nuclear reaction in which
atomic nuclei of low atomic number fuse to form a heavier
nucleus with the release of energy. nuclear magnetic resonance
the absorption of electromagnetic radiation by a nucleus having
a magnetic moment when in an external magnetic field, used
mainly as an analytical technique and in body imaging for
diagnosis. °Abbr.: NMR, nmr. nuclear physics the physics of
atomic nuclei and their interactions, esp. in the generation of
nuclear energy. nuclear power 1 electric or motive power
generated by a nuclear reactor. 2 a country that has nuclear
weapons. nuclear reactor a device in which a nuclear fission
chain reaction is sustained and controlled in order to produce
energy. nuclear umbrella supposed protection afforded by an
alliance with a country possessing nuclear weapons. nuclear
warfare warfare in which nuclear weapons are used. nuclear
waste any radioactive waste material from the reprocessing of
spent nuclear fuel. nuclear winter obstruction of sunlight as a
potential result of nuclear warfare, causing extreme cold.
[NUCLEUS + -AR(1)]
nuclease n. an enzyme that catalyses the breakdown of nucleic acids.
nucleate adj. & v. --adj. having a nucleus. --v.intr. & tr. form or
form into a nucleus. ЬЬnucleation n. [LL nucleare nucleat-
form a kernel (as NUCLEUS)]
nuclei pl. of NUCLEUS.
n. either of two complex organic molecules (DNA and RNA),
consisting of many nucleotides linked in a long chain, and
present in all living cells.
nucleo- comb. form nucleus; nucleic acid (nucleo-protein).
nucleolus n. (pl. nucleoli) a small dense spherical structure within a
non-dividing nucleus. ЬЬnucleolar adj. [LL, dimin. of L
nucleus: see NUCLEUS]
nucleon n. Physics a proton or neutron.
n.pl. (treated as sing.) the branch of science and technology
concerned with atomic nuclei and nucleons, esp. the exploitation
of nuclear power. ЬЬnucleonic adj. [NUCLEAR, after
n. a complex of nucleic acid and protein.
n. Biochem. an organic compound consisting of a purine or
pyrimidine base linked to a sugar, e.g. adenosine.
n. Biochem. an organic compound consisting of a nucleoside
linked to a phosphate group.
nucleus n. (pl. nuclei) 1 a the central part or thing round which
others are collected. b the kernel of an aggregate or mass. 2
an initial part meant to receive additions. 3 Astron. the solid
part of a comet's head. 4 Physics the positively charged
central core of an atom that contains most of its mass. 5 Biol.
a large dense organelle of eukaryotic cells, containing the
genetic material. 6 a discrete mass of grey matter in the
central nervous system. [L, = kernel, inner part, dimin. of nux
nuclide n. Physics a certain type of atom characterized by the number
of protons and neutrons in its nucleus. ЬЬnuclidic adj.
[NUCLEUS + Gk eidos form]
nude adj. & n. --adj. naked, bare, unclothed. --n. 1 a painting,
sculpture, photograph, etc. of a nude human figure; such a
figure. 2 a nude person. 3 (prec. by the) a an unclothed
state. b the representation of an undraped human figure as a
genre in art. Ьnude contract Law = bare contract. [L nudus]
nudge v. & n. --v.tr. 1 prod gently with the elbow to attract
attention. 2 push gently or gradually. 3 give a gentle
reminder or encouragement to (a person). --n. the act or an
instance of nudging; a gentle push. ЬЬnudger n. [17th c.:
orig. unkn.: cf. Norw. dial. nugga, nyggja to push, rub]
nudist n. a person who advocates or practises going unclothed.
nudity n. the state of being nude; nakedness.
nugatory adj. 1 futile, trifling, worthless. 2 inoperative; not valid.
[L nugatorius f. nugari to trifle f. nugae jests]
nugget n. 1 a a lump of gold, platinum, etc., as found in the earth.
b a lump of anything compared to this. 2 something valuable for
its size (often abstract in sense: a little nugget of
information). [app. f. dial. nug lump etc.]
nuisance n. 1 a person, thing, or circumstance causing trouble or
annoyance. 2 anything harmful or offensive to the community or
a member of it and for which a legal remedy exists. Ьnuisance
value an advantage resulting from the capacity to harass or
frustrate. [ME f. OF, = hurt, f. nuire nuis- f. L nocere to
NUJ abbr. (in the UK) National Union of Journalists.
nuke n. & v. colloq. --n. a nuclear weapon. --v.tr. bomb or
destroy with nuclear weapons. [abbr.]
null adj. & n. --adj. 1 (esp. null and void) invalid; not binding.
2 non-existent; amounting to nothing. 3 having or associated
with the value zero. 4 Computing a empty; having no elements
(null list). b all the elements of which are zeros (null
matrix). 5 without character or expression. --n. a dummy
letter in a cipher. Ьnull character Computing a character
denoting nothing, usu. represented by a zero. null hypothesis a
hypothesis suggesting that the difference between statistical
samples does not imply a difference between populations. null
instrument an instrument used by adjustment to give a reading of
zero. null link Computing a reference incorporated into the
last item in a list to indicate there are no further items in
the list. [F nul nulle or L nullus none f. ne not + ullus any]
nullah n. Anglo-Ind. a dry river-bed or ravine. [Hindi nala]
n. (also nulla) Austral. a hardwood club used by Aborigines.
nullify v.tr. (-ies, -ied) make null; neutralize, invalidate, cancel.
ЬЬnullification n. nullifier n.
nullipara n. a woman who has never borne a child. ЬЬnulliparous adj.
[mod.L f. L nullus none + -para fem. of -parus f. parere bear
nullipore n. any of various seaweeds able to secrete lime. [L nullus
none + PORE(1)]
nullity n. (pl. -ies) 1 Law a being null; invalidity, esp. of
marriage. b an act, document, etc., that is null. 2 a
nothingness. b a mere nothing; a nonentity. [F nullit‚ or
med.L nullitas f. L nullus none]
NUM abbr. (in the UK) National Union of Mineworkers.
Num. abbr. Numbers (Old Testament).
numb adj. & v. --adj. (often foll. by with) deprived of feeling or
the power of motion (numb with cold). --v.tr. 1 make numb. 2
stupefy, paralyse. Ьnumb-fish = electric ray. ЬЬnumbly adv.
numbness n. [ME nome(n) past part. of nim take: for -b cf.
numbat n. a small Australian marsupial, Myrmecobius fasciatus, with a
bushy tail and black and white striped back. [Aboriginal]
number n. & v. --n. 1 a an arithmetical value representing a
particular quantity and used in counting and making
calculations. b a word, symbol, or figure representing this; a
numeral. c an arithmetical value showing position in a series
esp. for identification, reference, etc. (registration number).
2 (often foll. by of) the total count or aggregate (the number
of accidents has decreased; twenty in number). 3 a the study of
the behaviour of numbers; numerical reckoning (the laws of
number). b (in pl.) arithmetic (not good at numbers). 4 a (in
sing. or pl.) a quantity or amount; a total; a count (a large
number of people; only in small numbers). b (in pl.) numerical
preponderance (force of numbers; there is safety in numbers). 5
a a person or thing having a place in a series, esp. a single
issue of a magazine, an item in a programme, etc. b a song,
dance, musical item, etc. 6 company, collection, group (among
our number). 7 Gram. a the classification of words by their
singular or plural forms. b a particular such form. 8 colloq.
a person or thing regarded familiarly or affectionately (usu.
qualified in some way: an attractive little number). 9
(Numbers) the Old Testament book containing a census. --v.tr.
1 include (I number you among my friends). 2 assign a number or
numbers to. 3 have or amount to (a specified number). 4 a
count. b include. Ьby numbers following simple instructions
(as if) identified by numbers. one's days are numbered one does
not have long to live. have a person's number colloq.
understand a person's real motives, character, etc. have a
person's number on it (of a bomb, bullet, etc.) be destined to
hit a specified person. number cruncher Computing & Math. sl.
a machine capable of complex calculations etc. number crunching
the act or process of making these calculations. one's number
is up colloq. one is finished or doomed to die. a number of
some, several. °Use with a plural verb is now standard: a
number of problems remain. number one n. colloq. oneself
(always takes care of number one). --adj. most important (the
number one priority). number-plate a plate on a vehicle
displaying its registration number. numbers game 1 usu. derog.
action involving only arithmetical work. 2 US a lottery based
on the occurrence of unpredictable numbers in the results of
races etc. Number Ten 10 Downing Street, the official London
home of the British Prime Minister. number two a second in
command. without number innumerable. [ME f. OF nombre (n.),
nombrer (v.) f. L numerus, numerare]
numbles n.pl. Brit. archaic a deer's entrails. [ME f. OF numbles,
nombles loin etc., f. L lumbulus dimin. of lumbus loin: cf.
numbskull var. of NUMSKULL.
numdah n. an embroidered felt rug from India etc. [Urdu namda f.
Pers. namad carpet]
numen n. (pl. numina) a presiding deity or spirit. [L numen -minis]
numerable adj. that can be counted. ЬЬnumerably adv. [L numerabilis f.
numerare NUMBER v.]
numeral n. & adj. --n. a word, figure, or group of figures denoting a
number. --adj. of or denoting a number. [LL numeralis f. L (as
numerate adj. acquainted with the basic principles of mathematics.
ЬЬnumeracy n. [L numerus number + -ATE(2) after literate]
n. 1 a a method or process of numbering or computing. b
calculation. 2 the expression in words of a number written in
figures. [ME f. L numeratio payment, in LL numbering (as
numerator n. 1 the number above the line in a vulgar fraction showing how
many of the parts indicated by the denominator are taken (e.g. 2
in 2/3). 2 a person or device that numbers. [F num‚rateur or
LL numerator (as NUMBER)]
numerical adj. (also numeric) of or relating to a number or numbers
(numerical superiority). Ьnumerical analysis the branch of
mathematics that deals with the development and use of numerical
methods for solving problems. ЬЬnumerically adv. [med.L
numericus (as NUMBER)]
n. (pl. -ies) the study of the supposed occult significance of
numbers. ЬЬnumerological adj. numerologist n. [L numerus
number + -LOGY]
numerous adj. 1 (with pl.) great in number (received numerous gifts). 2
consisting of many (a numerous family). ЬЬnumerously adv.
numerousness n. [L numerosus (as NUMBER)]
numina pl. of NUMEN.
numinous adj. 1 indicating the presence of a divinity. 2 spiritual. 3
awe-inspiring. [L numen: see NUMEN]
adj. of or relating to coins or medals. ЬЬnumismatically adv.
[F numismatique f. L numisma f. Gk nomisma -atos current coin f.
nomizo use currently]
n.pl. (usu. treated as sing.) the study of coins or medals.
n. = NUMISMATICS.
nummulite n. a disc-shaped fossil shell of a foraminiferous protozoan
found in Tertiary strata. [L nummulus dimin. of nummus coin]
numnah n. a saddle-cloth or pad placed under a saddle. [Urdu namda:
numskull n. (also numbskull) a stupid or foolish person. [NUMB + SKULL]
nun n. a member of a community of women living apart under
religious vows. ЬЬnunhood n. nunlike adj. nunnish adj. [ME
f. OE nunne and OF nonne f. eccl.L nonna fem. of nonnus monk,
orig. a title given to an elderly person]
nunatak n. an isolated peak of rock projecting above a surface of land
ice or snow e.g. in Greenland. [Eskimo]
nun-buoy n. a buoy circular in the middle and tapering to each end.
[obs. nun child's top + BUOY]
n. the Song of Simeon (Luke 2:29-32) used as a canticle. [f.
the opening words nunc dimittis now let (your servant) depart]
n. RC Ch. the office or tenure of a nuncio. [It. nunziatura
nuncio n. (pl. -os) RC Ch. a papal ambassador. [It. f. L nuntius
nuncupate v.tr. declare (a will or testament) orally, not in writing.
ЬЬnuncupation n. nuncupative adj. [L nuncupare nuncupat- name]
nunnery n. (pl. -ies) a religious house of nuns; a convent.
NUPE abbr. (in the UK) National Union of Public Employees.
nuptial adj. & n. --adj. of or relating to marriage or weddings. --n.
(usu. in pl.) a wedding. [F nuptial or L nuptialis f. nuptiae
wedding f. nubere nupt- wed]
NUR abbr. (in the UK) National Union of Railwaymen.
nurd var. of NERD.
nurse n. & v. --n. 1 a person trained to assist doctors in caring
for the sick or infirm. 2 a person employed or trained to take
charge of young children. 3 archaic = wet-nurse. 4 Forestry a
tree planted as a shelter to others. 5 Zool. a sexually
imperfect bee, ant, etc., caring for a young brood; a worker.
--v. 1 a intr. work as a nurse. b tr. attend to (a sick
person). c tr. give medical attention to (an illness or
injury). 2 tr. & intr. feed or be fed at the breast. 3 tr. (in
passive; foll. by in) be brought up in (a specified condition)
(nursed in poverty). 4 tr. hold or treat carefully or
caressingly (sat nursing my feet). 5 tr. a foster; promote the
development of (the arts, plants, etc.). b harbour or nurture
(a grievance, hatred, etc.). c pay special attention to (nursed
the voters). 6 tr. Billiards keep (the balls) together for a
series of cannons. [reduced f. ME and OF norice, nurice f. LL
nutricia fem. of L nutricius f. nutrix -icis f. nutrire
nurseling var. of NURSLING.
nursemaid n. 1 a woman in charge of a child or children. 2 a person who
watches over or guides another carefully.
nursery n. (pl. -ies) 1 a a room or place equipped for young children.
b = day nursery. 2 a place where plants, trees, etc., are
reared for sale or transplantation. 3 any sphere or place in or
by which qualities or types of people are fostered or bred. 4
Billiards a grouped balls (see NURSE v. 6). b (in full nursery
cannon) a cannon on three close balls. Ьnursery nurse a person
trained to take charge of babies and young children. nursery
rhyme a simple traditional song or story in rhyme for children.
nursery school a school for children between the ages of three
and five. nursery slopes Skiing gentle slopes suitable for
beginners. nursery stakes a race for two-year-old horses.
n. (pl. -men) an owner of or worker in a plant nursery.
nursing n. 1 the practice or profession of caring for the sick as a
nurse. 2 (attrib.) concerned with or suitable for nursing the
sick or elderly etc. (nursing home; nursing sister). Ьnursing
officer a senior nurse (see senior nursing officer).
nursling n. (also nurseling) an infant that is being suckled.
nurture n. & v. --n. 1 the process of bringing up or training (esp.
children); fostering care. 2 nourishment. 3 sociological
factors as an influence on or determinant of personality (opp.
NATURE). --v.tr. 1 bring up; rear. 2 nourish. ЬЬnurturer n.
[ME f. OF nour(e)ture (as NOURISH)]
NUS abbr. 1 (in the UK) National Union of Seamen. 2 (in the UK)
National Union of Students.
NUT abbr. (in the UK) National Union of Teachers.
nut n. & v. --n. 1 a a fruit consisting of a hard or tough shell
around an edible kernel. b this kernel. 2 a pod containing
hard seeds. 3 a small usu. square or hexagonal flat piece of
metal or other material with a threaded hole through it for
screwing on the end of a bolt to secure it. 4 sl. a person's
head. 5 sl. a a crazy or eccentric person. b an obsessive
enthusiast or devotee (a health-food nut). 6 a small lump of
coal, butter, etc. 7 a a device fitted to the bow of a violin
for adjusting its tension. b the fixed ridge on the neck of a
stringed instrument over which the strings pass. 8 (in pl.)
coarse sl. the testicles. --v.intr. (nutted, nutting) seek or
gather nuts (go nutting). Ьdo one's nut sl. be extremely angry
or agitated. for nuts colloq. even tolerably well (cannot sing
for nuts). nut cutlet a cutlet-shaped portion of
meat-substitute, made from nuts etc. nut-house sl. a mental
home or hospital. nut-oil an oil obtained from hazelnuts and
walnuts and used in paints and varnishes. nuts and bolts
colloq. the practical details. nut-tree any tree bearing nuts,
esp. a hazel. off one's nut sl. crazy. ЬЬnutlike adj. [OE
hnutu f. Gmc]
nutation n. 1 the act or an instance of nodding. 2 Astron. a periodic
oscillation of the earth's poles. 3 oscillation of a spinning
top. 4 the spiral movement of a plant organ during growth. [L
nutatio (as NUTANT)]
nutcase n. sl. a crazy or foolish person.
n. (usu. in pl.) a device for cracking nuts.
nutgall n. a gall found on dyer's oak, used as a dyestuff.
nuthatch n. any small bird of the family Sittidae, climbing up and down
tree-trunks and feeding on nuts, insects, etc. [NUT + hatch
rel. to HATCH(2)]
nutlet n. a small nut or nutlike fruit.
nutmeg n. 1 an evergreen E. Indian tree, Myristica fragrans, yielding
a hard aromatic spheroidal seed. 2 the seed of this used as a
spice and in medicine. Ьnutmeg-apple the fruit of this tree,
yielding mace and nutmeg. [ME: partial transl. of OF nois
mug(u)ede ult. f. L nux nut + LL muscus MUSK]
nutria n. the skin or fur of a coypu. [Sp., = otter]
nutrient n. & adj. --n. any substance that provides essential
nourishment for the maintenance of life. --adj. serving as or
providing nourishment. [L nutrire nourish]
nutriment n. 1 nourishing food. 2 an intellectual or artistic etc.
nourishment or stimulus. ЬЬnutrimental adj. [L nutrimentum (as
nutrition n. 1 a the process of providing or receiving nourishing
substances. b food, nourishment. 2 the study of nutrients and
nutrition. ЬЬnutritional adj. [F nutrition or LL nutritio (as
n. a person who studies or is an expert on the processes of
adj. efficient as food; nourishing. ЬЬnutritiously adv.
nutritiousness n. [L nutritius (as NURSE)]
nutritive adj. & n. --adj. 1 of or concerned in nutrition. 2 serving as
nutritious food. --n. a nutritious article of food. [ME f. F
nutritif -ive f. med.L nutritivus (as NUTRIENT)]
nuts adj. & int. --adj. sl. crazy, mad, eccentric. --int. sl. an
expression of contempt or derision (nuts to you). Ьbe nuts
about (or on) colloq. be enthusiastic about or very fond of.
nutshell n. the hard exterior covering of a nut. Ьin a nutshell in a
nutter n. Brit. sl. a crazy or eccentric person.
nutty adj. (nuttier, nuttiest) 1 a full of nuts. b tasting like
nuts. 2 sl. = NUTS adj. ЬЬnuttiness n.
n. 1 an E. Indian tree, Strychnos nux-vomica, yielding a
poisonous fruit. 2 the seeds of this tree, containing
strychnine. [med.L f. L nux nut + vomicus f. vomere vomit]
nuzzle v. 1 tr. prod or rub gently with the nose. 2 intr. (foll. by
into, against, up to) press the nose gently. 3 tr. (also refl.)
nestle; lie snug. [ME f. NOSE + -LE(4)]
NY abbr. US New York (also in official postal use).
nyala var. of INYALA.
NYC abbr. New York City.
n. the inability to see in dim light or at night. Also called
night-blindness. [LL f. Gk nuktalops f. nux nuktos night +
alaos blind + ops eye]
adj. Bot. (of plant movements) occurring at night and caused
by changes in light and temperature. [Gk nukti- comb. form of
nux nuktos night + tropos turn]
nye var. of NIDE.
nylghau n. = NILGAI. [Hind. f. Pers. nilgaw f. nil blue + gaw cow]
nylon n. 1 any of various synthetic polyamide fibres having a
protein-like structure, with tough, lightweight, elastic
properties, used in industry and for textiles etc. 2 a nylon
fabric. 3 (in pl.) stockings made of nylon. [invented word,
after cotton, rayon]
nymph n. 1 any of various mythological semi-divine spirits regarded
as maidens and associated with aspects of nature, esp. rivers
and woods. 2 poet. a beautiful young woman. 3 a an immature
form of some insects. b a young dragonfly or damselfly.
ЬЬnymphal adj. nymphean adj. nymphlike adj. [ME f. OF nimphe
f. L nympha f. Gk numphe]
nymphae n.pl. Anat. the labia minora. [L, pl. of nympha: see NYMPH]
nymphet n. 1 a young nymph. 2 colloq. a sexually attractive young
nympho n. (pl. -os) colloq. a nymphomaniac. [abbr.]
n. ecstasy or frenzy caused by desire of the unattainable.
[NYMPHOLEPT after epilepsy]
n. a person inspired by violent enthusiasm esp. for an ideal.
ЬЬnympholeptic adj. [Gk numpholeptos caught by nymphs (as
NYMPH, lambano take)]
n. excessive sexual desire in women. ЬЬnymphomaniac n. & adj.
[mod.L (as NYMPH, -MANIA)]
nystagmus n. rapid involuntary movements of the eyes. ЬЬnystagmic adj.
[Gk nustagmos nodding f. nustazo nod]