Definition of nurse in English:



  • 1A person trained to care for the sick or infirm, especially in a hospital.

    • ‘Employing foreign nurses is just a short-term solution.’
    • ‘The report points out that, of a full complement of 13 nurses employed when the prison opened, only two of the original staff remain a year later.’
    • ‘Raised by his maternal grandparents from age four to six, he was passed around relatives after their death while his mother trained as a nurse in London.’
    • ‘Babs trained as a nurse in her young days over in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, but later returned to take care of her mother back home in Garrywadreen.’
    • ‘The circulating perioperative nurse applies warm blankets to the patient to prevent hypothermia.’
    • ‘My partner was fairly soon seen by a triage nurse who assessed the severity of the injury.’
    • ‘He added that the health board recently held interviews to recruit specialist oncology nurses for Waterford Regional Hospital.’
    • ‘To be valuable health care practitioners, nurses must commit to lifelong learning.’
    • ‘They also employed a part-time nurse to visit people in their own homes.’
    • ‘The mother was a nurse at a local hospital, and the father was a lawyer.’
    • ‘A helpline operated by trained dental nurses has been launched.’
    • ‘But of course it was too expensive to employ trained nurses to do those kind of things so now we just stick to the medical side!’
    • ‘The fund employs a research nurse who supports patients on the ward and is involved with clinical trials.’
    • ‘The treatment can be delivered by suitably trained practice nurses or general practitioners.’
    • ‘Until this occurs state and federal governments need to employ more nurses but less clerical public servants, advisers and minders.’
    • ‘As a registered psychiatric nurse, she spent years caring for gay kids.’
    • ‘Mark Huxtep is a nurse who was employed by ACM at Woomera at the time of the incident.’
    • ‘The charity also employs oncology care nurses at key hospitals throughout Ireland.’
    • ‘Joan was widely known throughout the area, having been public health nurse for years.’
    • ‘Older registered nurses who have worked for decades should be able to complete their careers under less onerous conditions.’
    carer, caregiver, attendant
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    1. 1.1dated A person employed or trained to take charge of young children.
      ‘her mother's old nurse’
      • ‘She takes refuge with her old nurse, Denis's mother, and Denis falls in love with her little daughter Agnes.’
      • ‘But Canada's nanny is not just the caring nurse; she's also a strict governess.’
      • ‘There, her old nurse recognizes the goblet, which the trolls had stolen when they abducted her long ago.’
      nanny, childminder, governess, au pair, nursemaid, crèche worker, childcarer, babysitter, nursery nurse
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    2. 1.2archaic A wet nurse.
      • ‘Henry III sent his old nurse, Helen of Winchester, underwood for her fire.’
    3. 1.3Forestry [often as modifier]A tree or crop planted as a shelter to others.
      • ‘In this situation, we plant the hay seed into a nurse crop of winter wheat or spring oats.’
      • ‘If all of this is true, then to try starting any hay crop without chemicals, tillage or nurse crops will most likely end in failure.’
      • ‘Major components of the desert community die with the nurse trees.’
      • ‘Normally, my green manures are alfalfa and I grow them under the nurse crop, and when we cut that nurse crop in the fall the alfalfa can grow if there are fall rains.’
      • ‘He also offers a few thoughts on mixing nurse crops with your cover crops.’
    4. 1.4Biology A worker bee, ant, or other social insect, caring for a young brood.
      • ‘Nurse bees are special worker bees that attend the queen and the babies, or larvae, of the hive.’
      • ‘To gain access to the cell, she'll ride the belly side of a nurse bee, which is onsite to tend to the bee larva.’


  • 1Give medical and other attention to (a sick person)

    ‘she nursed the girl through a dangerous illness’
    • ‘What the nurse does is nurse a bodily injury or take care of the consequences of bodily injury.’
    • ‘During his visit he had nursed a baby girl, who was deaf and had been born without eyes.’
    • ‘Pay attention to those that appreciate your being there everyday to save lives and nurse people back to health.’
    • ‘He credits his wife, Cathleen with nursing him back to health both physically and psychologically.’
    • ‘Zeena, also enraged, tells him that she became sick from nursing his ill mother.’
    • ‘He was in a Hospice in Perth at the end and was nursed with great care and tenderness until he died but he was only 58 and should have lived much longer had he not been exposed to asbestos back beginning in about 1959.’
    • ‘She nurses him back to health, and subsequently their attachment deepens.’
    • ‘She kept right on nursing her friends and relations.’
    • ‘Following this discovery, the narrative focuses on the long process of the Virginian's convalescence as Molly nurses him back to health.’
    • ‘Goya may have expected to die, but under Arrieta's care, he was nursed back to health and lived another eight years.’
    • ‘In 1823 Saint-Simon attempted to kill himself but Rodrigues came to his rescue, nursed him back to health, and provided him with the necessary financial support to see out the rest of his life.’
    • ‘Though we lead busy lives, we need to care for them, nurse them well and try to make them happy.’
    • ‘During her first and second years at medical school Patrice nursed her own mother, who had terminal breast cancer.’
    • ‘Zhu said he was sick and his girlfriend was nursing him back to health.’
    • ‘Later, Anni, a Lapp widow, who works a reindeer farm single-handed on the shores of a lake, finds the concussed Russian and drags him back to her hovel and nurses him to health.’
    • ‘Later, when Pip falls sick, Joe nurses him back to health and pays off all of his debts.’
    • ‘He says it is very rewarding to care for and nurse pets in the area, where he has worked for eight years.’
    • ‘The procedure also made it possible to discover that she developed these symptoms while she was nursing her sick father, something that was unknown to her.’
    • ‘They cook, clean, nurse elderly parents and sick infants, and race the clock to make sure everyone is on schedule and fed.’
    • ‘On the evening of 6 April 1985, Ms Drew took a night off from nursing her sick mother, to go ballroom dancing.’
    care for, take care of, look after, tend, attend to, minister to
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    1. 1.1[no object]Care for the sick and infirm, especially as a profession.
      ‘she nursed at the hospital for thirty years’
      • ‘The nursing staff included nurses, nursing assistants, physiotherapists, and head nurses from both day and night shifts.’
      • ‘A good few nurses who come here to work have some nursing experience, having nursed in hospitals abroad.’
      • ‘The settlement also provides improved penalty rates for emergency Child, Adolescent and Adult Mental Health nursing staff.’
      • ‘In that same year a Fever Hospital, Infirmary and Dispensary were incorporated into the workhouse buildings and the Saint John of God nuns began nursing in the hospital.’
      • ‘Sandra, whose parents, Alan and Violet Beattie still live at Langton Park, nursed in the Mater Hospital, Dublin before doing agency nursing in Naas.’
      • ‘Lily has spent the past five-and-a-half years nursing in Beaumont Hospital in Dublin.’
      • ‘The hospital is staffed by 22 nurses, one senior nursing sister, one matron, and three government medical officers.’
      • ‘Checking by physicians and pharmacy and nursing staff was all manual.’
      • ‘The greatest compliance increases were achieved by nurses and nursing assistants.’
      • ‘Firstly, teaching hospitals are a training ground for nursing students and new graduates.’
      • ‘She emigrated to England back in the 1940s and nursed in a Manchester hospital during the War years.’
      • ‘Families have to bring food and medicines to patients in hospital and assist in nursing.’
      • ‘The shire is currently converting the former residence of the Silver Chain nursing sister into a medical centre.’
      • ‘The amount of strain that measuring the heights of all admitted children puts on the medical and nursing staff should not be underestimated.’
    2. 1.2Try to cure or alleviate (an injury, injured part, or illness) by treating it carefully and protectively.
      ‘he has been nursing a cold’
      figurative ‘he nursed his hurt pride’
      • ‘Indiana's lineup has been banged and bruised, with six key players, including star forward Jermaine O'Neal, nursing injuries.’
      • ‘This one was particularly difficult because I was nursing a foot injury from six months before; I joined the march halfway along so I wouldn't have to walk too far.’
      • ‘With Marquis Grissom struggling and James Mouton nursing a wrist injury, the team is taking a look at utility infielder Lou Collier in center field.’
      • ‘With Wayne Hall still out and Christian Fox nursing a foot injury, Talbot, a player comfortable in midfield and defence, could help ease Dolan's concerns on the left.’
      • ‘Now in the midst of her last outdoor track and field season, Nwofor has been nursing an ankle injury that has limited her activity since the close of the indoor season earlier this year.’
      • ‘He's not the type of player to nurse an injury, so the team should be careful with how it uses him.’
      • ‘With Atapattu, Arnold, Jayawardena, de Silva and Jayasuriya gone and Ranatunge nursing an injury in the dressing room the home team was certainly in with a big chance.’
      • ‘Last weekend, the Ukrainian-born and German-based Davydenko saved the day for his adopted country despite nursing a wrist injury.’
      • ‘Bomber spearhead Matthew Lloyd should be approaching full fitness after nursing a shoulder injury in last weekend's win over Collingwood.’
      • ‘When the tournament is held before the season, not in the middle of it, players aren't tired, nursing injuries or distracted by their seasons.’
      • ‘Day after day, I nursed the wound, looking forward to healing, but pus continued to drain from the incision site, helped by the wick that I had thoughtfully inserted.’
      • ‘Sure, his teammate Ronald Murray has been the big surprise, but with Ray Allen out nursing an ankle injury, this is Lewis' team.’
      • ‘Dale Heidtmann is still nursing a foot injury but lock Phillip Schutte returns to the reserve bench.’
      • ‘He has spent the offseason nursing a shoulder injury and struggled to make the transition from right to left end last season after the team signed Simeon Rice as a free agent.’
      • ‘But their best player, a mid-fielder, will most likely be unavailable for the semi-final as he is nursing a collar-bone injury.’
      • ‘He said several players were nursing injuries - some slight, some more serious - while others needed to build up their fitness base.’
      • ‘The Sydney Roosters forward spent most of the first half in the dressing room nursing a head injury and afterwards made a veiled reference to retribution at the KC Stadium.’
      • ‘And with Danny Kilshaw nursing a neck injury and Lee Wingfield the target for some ungentlemanly play, East had two key players unable to make their usual massive contribution.’
      • ‘After finally being seen by a passer-by at about 5am yesterday and airlifted to safety he was still nursing painful injuries inflicted all over his legs and buttocks by the thorns.’
      • ‘Geary was pleased with the performance, and although there are several players nursing injuries the manager will be pleased to welcome back his talisman, Jimmy Hedges.’
      treat, medicate, tend, attend to, cure, heal
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    3. 1.3Hold closely and carefully or caressingly.
      ‘he nursed his small case on his lap’
      • ‘Tracking back in support of his besieged full-back, Arjen Robben seemed in control as he nursed the ball towards the end-line and used his superior size to hold off Messi.’
      • ‘We figured we would just nurse the ball and get into field goal position.’
    4. 1.4Hold (a cup or glass) in one's hands, drinking from it occasionally.
      ‘I nursed a double brandy’
      • ‘As we were sitting there, nursing our drinks, a girl walked into the pub.’
      • ‘Just make sure you don't nurse one drink for three hours.’
      • ‘The only other paying customer, an old jockey of a man with a massive mustache, stops nursing his drink long enough to come up and ask me for a cigarette.’
      • ‘At a little round table just inside the door, three of the four members of Best Fight Story sit quietly watching the Timberwolves game and nursing their beers.’
      • ‘Sad to say, but I've been becoming a leather jacket wearing guy standing at the back of the venue, nursing my drink.’
      • ‘A guy named Dave, who recently celebrated his 50th birthday, was nursing a beer at the bar and making small talk with some of the other regulars.’
      • ‘Margaret points to a table where Jake is sitting, nursing his drink with a permanent frown.’
      • ‘I remembered him sitting and watching me, nursing his drink for hours, every now and then dipping his tongue to sip.’
      • ‘As usual, James was prompt and I arrived to find him seated at our table nursing a vodka with ice.’
      • ‘As I stood off to one side, nursing my drink, I reflected that I was not very good at talking to celebrities.’
      • ‘Hovering at the back for a few seconds I scanned the club, there was Darren leaning against the bar nursing a drink, pretty girl at his side.’
      • ‘The man is middle-aged and dark-haired, and is nursing a drink.’
      • ‘Audra Springer and two of her friends, a black poodle and a white one, stood at the end of the buffet table, nursing their drinks as they discussed the evening's events.’
      • ‘During his wait, Perez ordered himself a Bloody Mary and he was nursing the drink, sipping occasionally as he waited for Tan Ludlow.’
      • ‘After seven or eight bourbon and cokes in about an hour I started nursing my drinks because even in my inebriated state I valued my liver more than my pride at never getting outdrunk by a girl.’
      • ‘Rebecca sat at a slot machine feeding in quarters and nursing a margarita.’
      • ‘I didn't want to see anyone, not even Doyle, so I hung out in the food court, nursing a drink and watching people.’
      • ‘I thanked him, sat nursing my drink while he returned the bottle to its tray.’
      • ‘He and his friends sit, nursing their drinks, and construct a perfect and consistent image of the modern world.’
      • ‘Caine watched as the last few stragglers nursed their drinks.’
    5. 1.5Harbor (a belief or feeling), especially for a long time.
      ‘I still nurse anger and resentment’
      • ‘Morea's mother seems inexplicably sad and austere, nursing a secret grief.’
      • ‘That was in 1950, and she's lived in America ever since then, though she nurses a desire to return to this country where her daughter Kate now lives.’
      • ‘For days, Miss Nellie nursed a feeling of neglect.’
      • ‘Fyffes has been nursing an ambition to propel itself into a new phase of development, moving from being the dominant European player to one of the largest in the world.’
      • ‘She nursed a desire to become an actress in Bollywood films.’
      • ‘Many Democratic voters have nursed feelings of anger and disenfranchisement for the past four years.’
      • ‘And I do see him nursing the illusion that he can control information in modern Washington.’
      • ‘They nurse a belief that life has treated them unfairly, much worse than they deserve.’
      • ‘Powell nursed a deep fear of public speaking and was terrified when she was required to give a class presentation.’
      • ‘A former Cheshire businesswoman of the year, she has nursed an ambition to get into parliament for years and told the Yorkshire Post in a recent interview she had no intention of quitting.’
      • ‘Anybody found nursing any doubts about it would be responsible for his own horrible end.’
      • ‘I suspect Mother nurses a great deal of disappointment in both of her daughters when it comes to the issue of church attendance.’
      • ‘I nursed a secret longing to explore such places but the only reason I was ever allowed to climb another man's fence was if there was no bush handy to address a roadside bathroom emergency.’
      • ‘In its chronic illness, her body has turned on itself, nursing and feeding its own traumatic memories continually.’
      • ‘He lived in a hovel of an apartment, sold illegal software, hacked systems, and nursed a feeling of unease.’
      • ‘The voters have since then, to paraphrase Robert Burns, been nursing their wrath to keep it warm.’
      • ‘But Clarke has so far been seemingly ultra-honest by admitting he still nurses an ambition to be both the leader of the Conservative Party and prime minister.’
      • ‘Buffeted by scorn, hated, reviled, he nurses his own hatred, seeking refuge in the thickets of the Law, because true justice has eluded him.’
      • ‘For the last few days, I've been nursing this crazy desire to get as far away as I can from London.’
      • ‘Despite the drubbing they received at Kolkata, the visitors must be nursing big hopes of squaring the series here.’
      harbour, foster, entertain, brood over, bear, have, cherish, cling to, maintain, retain
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    6. 1.6Take special care of, especially to promote development or well-being.
      ‘our political unity needs to be protected and nursed’
      • ‘Benn recounts how, as his own death sentence appeared to lift, he nursed Caroline through terminal breast cancer.’
      • ‘Instead of developing players to international level, Scotland's pro teams have had to nurse youngsters up to a basic competitive standard which some never reach.’
      • ‘They would care for them, and caress them, and nurse them, and pamper them.’
      • ‘This is the right moment to nurse it with care and concern, instead of leaving the youngsters frustrated.’
      encourage, nurture, promote, boost, further, advance, contribute to, assist, help, cultivate, stimulate
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    7. 1.7Billiards Try to play strokes that keep (the balls) close together.
      • ‘There is no doubt perioperative registered nursing is a worthy career that we need to recognize.’
  • 2Feed (a baby) at the breast.

    ‘lionesses who were nursing their own cubs’
    ‘nursing mothers’
    • ‘Some sensible rules about herbs are: Don't take herbs if you are pregnant or nursing.’
    • ‘For the next several years, mothers nurse their babies, and the babies are carried everywhere and played with by adoring relatives.’
    • ‘It begins in 1981 with a phone call at Christmas from a cycling track in Germany to an apartment in Ghent, Belgium, where a mother is nursing her infant son.’
    • ‘It is more than likely that a mother who chooses to nurse her adopted baby will need to supplement her milk supply.’
    • ‘Ape mothers nurse their babies for several years, and during this period they are protective and attentive to the point of indulgence.’
    • ‘The mother often nurses an infant until the age of two.’
    • ‘Francisco Noronha nurses her toddler while she supervises.’
    • ‘She was shot through the window of her home as she nursed her baby boy.’
    • ‘What moves the heart of a mother to nurse her infant at all hours of the night and to comfort a sick child?’
    • ‘Mothers are entitled to one year's maternity leave so that they can stay with their babies and nurse them.’
    • ‘A mother that has nursed a baby that long is apt to skip a year before breeding again, most likely because it takes a while to store up enough fat.’
    • ‘A century later, some French subjects believed that a general social reform would result if mothers nursed their own babies, rather than sending them out to wet nurses.’
    • ‘Babies are nursed by their mothers until two to four years of age.’
    • ‘The rite aims to coax the camel mother into nursing her baby.’
    • ‘A young mother nursed her infant in a plastic chair not far from animal cages.’
    • ‘Many young mothers who did not nurse their first babies are now nursing their second.’
    • ‘For instance, the oral stage can be seen as the emergence of symbolic capacity, in the complex biological matrix of a mother nursing her infant.’
    • ‘In Jerusalem, there is a free loan for mother's milk - a milk bank to aid babies whose mothers cannot nurse them for some reason.’
    • ‘If you're pregnant or nursing, yoga is considered generally safe.’
    • ‘The mother nursing her baby knows that the time of weaning will come.’
    breastfeed, suckle, wet-nurse, feed
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    1. 2.1[no object]Be fed at the breast.
      ‘the baby snuffled as he nursed’
      • ‘The more your baby nurses, the more milk the mother's body produces.’
      • ‘The cub nursed at her breast with as little fear as the young child newly born she had left behind at home.’
      • ‘The language that mothers use when describing their babies' refusal to nurse conveys this experience of infants as wilful social actors.’
      • ‘Placing very young children, especially nursing infants, with foster caretakers implied payment for the service.’
      • ‘If your baby is premature or can't nurse right away after birth, you may have to feed the baby in other ways.’
      • ‘It seems like yesterday that he was the wakeful baby who nursed incessantly and rarely slept through the night.’
      • ‘Colic and fussiness have been attributed to elevated serum concentrations of fluoxetine and its metabolite in nursing infants.’
      • ‘I recently spoke with a mother of twins who nursed night and day and started bleeding 5 1/2 months post-partum.’
    2. 2.2dated Be brought up in (a specified condition)
      ‘he was nursed in the lap of plenty’


Late Middle English: contraction of earlier nourice, from Old French, from late Latin nutricia, feminine of Latin nutricius (person) that nourishes from nutrix, nutric- nurse from nutrire nourish The verb was originally a contraction of nourish, altered under the influence of the noun.