Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary
c.1300, from Old French niece "niece, granddaughter" (12c., Modern French nièce), earlier niepce, from Latin neptia (also source of Portuguese neta, Spanish nieta), a more decidedly feminine form of neptis "granddaughter," in Late Latin "niece," fem. of nepos "grandson, nephew" (see nephew). Replaced Old English nift, from Proto-Germanic *neftiz, from the same PIE root (Old English also used broðordohter and nefene).\n
\nUntil c.1600, it also commonly meant "a granddaughter" or any remote female descendant. Cognate with Spanish nieta, Old Lithuanian nepte, Sanskrit naptih "granddaughter;" Czech net, Old Irish necht, Welsh nith, German Nichte "niece."
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
The Collaborative International Dictionary
Niece \Niece\ (n[=e]s), n. [OE. nece, F. ni[`e]ce, LL. neptia, for L. neptis a granddaughter, niece, akin to nepos. See Nephew.]
A relative, in general; especially, a descendant, whether male or female; a granddaughter or a grandson. [Obs.]
--B. Jonson. Wyclif. Shak.
Especially: A daughter of one's brother or sister, or of one's brother-in-law or sister-in-law. In modern English, this is the primary meaning.
n. A daughter of someone’s sibling, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law; either the daughter of one's brother ("fraternal niece"), or of one's sister ("sororal niece").
n. a daughter of your brother or sister [ant: nephew]
Usage examples of "niece".
CHAPTER IV I receive the minor orders from the patriarch of Venice--I get acquainted with Senator Malipiero, with Therese Imer, with the niece of the Curate, with Madame Orio, with Nanette and Marton, and with the Cavamacchia--I become a preacher--my adventure with Lucie at Pasean A rendezvous on the third story.
I could kiss neither of them, since one passed for my niece, and my sense of humanity would not allow me to treat Marcoline as my mistress in the presence of an unfortunate brother who adored her, and had never obtained the least favour from her.
Among the candidates was Lolita Pulido, the niece of Don Juan Alcazar, a gentle, coquettish fourteen, very different from her cousin Carlos.
Besides, she had been sending him love notes for a year through her chaperone, which he had not answered, partly out of shyness but also because he had wanted to stay as far away as possible from any member of the Alcazar family, even a niece.
Sir Alec, Lady Kylith of Rhiminee, and her niece, Lady Ysmay of Orutan.
My niece and Marcoline thought themselves the best friends in the world, and could not bear my telling them that their amorous sports were the only reason for their attachment.
Mrs Ascher, her struggles, her support of her German husband, the devotion of her niece.
Griffen, the eminent industrialist, and niece of noted authoress Laura Chase, was found dead in her Church St.
I told the aunt that I found her niece so pretty that I would renounce my bachelorhood if I could find such a mate.
I soon made myself at home with her, and found out, when she began to talk, that she was neither a widow nor the niece of the Pope.
As the girl, by whose beauty I was struck, did not understand the game, I offered her a seat by the fire, asking her to grant me the honour of keeping her company, whereupon the elderly woman who had brought her began to laugh, and said I should have some difficulty in getting her niece to talk about anything, adding, in a polite manner, that she hoped I would be lenient with her as she had only just left a convent.
I escorted my niece into her room, and begged her to go to bed without troubling about me, and so saying I took up the paper and began to read it.
Shortly after my niece came in, and seeing me talking and laughing with the two girls began to examine the new-comer.
The conversation, as well as the pretty eyes of the niece, began to interest me, but fortunately the uncle put an end to it by begging me to follow him.
I took the opportunity, and begged leave of the aunt to give her and her niece a dozen pair apiece.