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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Nesh \Nesh\, a. [AS. hnesc, hn[ae]sc, akin to Goth. hnasqus.] Soft; tender; delicate. [Obs. or Prov. Eng.]

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"tender, delicate, weak," now a Northern England dialect word, from Old English hnesce "soft in texture" (cognate with early modern Dutch nesch, Gothic hnasqus), of unknown origin.


Etymology 1

  1. (label en now UK dialectal) soft; tender; sensitive; yielding. alt. (label en now UK dialectal) soft; tender; sensitive; yielding. Etymology 2


  2. 1 (context transitive English) To make soft, tender, or weak. 2 (label en intransitive dialectal Northern England) To act timidly.


Nesh is an English dialect adjective meaning 'unusually susceptible to cold weather' and there is no synonym for this use. Usage has been recorded in Staffordshire, the East Midlands, Lancashire, South Yorkshire and Shropshire. There is a similar term nish used in Newfoundland.

The word comes from Old Englishhnesce meaning feeble, weak, or infirm and is a cognate with the 16th century Dutch word nesch typically meaning damp or foolish. The Oxford English Dictionary notes that some etymologists have suggested a connection with Old High German nasc, meaning 'to eat dainty food or delicacies' (the origin of the word nosh), but it dismisses this connection as "unlikely".

Nesh was added, in 2011, to the British Library 'wordbank', a project to preserve regional dialects words and phrases.

Usage examples of "nesh".

Every few meters 3-D nesh projections flashed on and began their fixed lec-ture-and-display: the old ruins came to life, if nesh could be called life or perhaps more correctly only the simulation of life.

Rose stumbled over the concrete threshold and found herself in a dilapidated museum, long since gone to seed with the collapse of the tourist trade in nesh reconstructions of ancient sites.

Always as they rowed on among the craft that crowd the eastern channels of the Ninety Isles, under the windows and balconies of houses that lean out over the water, past the wharves of Nesh, the rainy pastures of Dromgan, the malodorous oil-sheds of Geath, word of his deed had gone ahead of him.

After all, what was it but an envelope of nesh to provide mobility for the mind?

His face was grim and strained, his Nesh pale as he lashed out with Stormbringer against the other clochs.