- A recess in a wall, as for holding a statue or urn.
- A cranny, hollow, or crevice, as in rock.
a. A situation or activity specially suited to a person's interests, abilities, or nature: found her niche in life.
b. A special area of demand for a product or service: “One niche that is approaching mass-market proportions is held by regional magazines” ( Brad Edmondson )
a. The function or position of an organism or population within an ecological community.
b. The range of environmental conditions within which the members of a given species can survive and reproduce.
transitive verbniched, nich·ing, nich·es
To place in a niche.
Origin of niche
Old French from nichier to nest
Vulgar Latin nīdicāre
) ( from
Latin nīdus nest
; see sed-
in Indo-European roots.) or from
Old Italian nicchio seashell
( perhaps from
Latin mītulus mussel
Usage Note: Niche was borrowed from French in the 1600s and Anglicized shortly thereafter. Many French borrowings have troublesome pronunciations, because most English speakers can't speak French very well, if at all. Niche presents an interesting variation of this pattern. It was quickly converted into a comfortable English-sounding word, pronounced (nĭch) and rhyming with itch. But in the 1900s, people familiar with French thought that a word that looked French should sound French, and so the Francophone pronunciation (nēsh), rhyming with quiche, was revived. Some Americans consider this pronunciation to be an affectation; however, it is standard in Britain and is included in most American dictionaries. The hybrid pronunciation (nēch), which takes something from each version to rhyme with leech, is less favored, perhaps because it makes one look as though one doesn't know what language one is speaking. In our 2005 survey, 69 percent of the Usage Panel found it unacceptable.
niche in the façade of Merchant Seamen's Hospital Houses
North Yorkshire, England
- (architecture) A cavity, hollow, or recess, generally within the thickness of a wall, for a statue, bust, or other erect ornament. Hence, any similar position, literal or figurative.
- "Images defended from the injuries of the weather by niches of stone wherein they are placed." --Evelyn.
- (biology) A function within an ecological system to which an organism is especially suited.
- (by extension) Any position of opportunity for which one is well-suited, such as a particular market in business.
- An arrow woven into a Muslim prayer rug pointing in the direction of Mecca.
From Old French niche, from nichier (“make a nest") (modern French nicher), from Latin nÄ«dus (“nest").