- river in W Africa, flowing from Guinea through Mali, Niger, & Nigeria into the Gulf of Guinea: c. 2,590 mi (4,168 km)
- country in WC Africa, north of Nigeria: formerly a French territory, it became independent in 1960: 489,191 sq mi (1,267,000 sq km); cap. Niamey
Origin of nigerFrom earlier niger seed, probably after the Niger River in West Africa, where it is widely grown.
The second pronunciations for the country name follow the French pronunciation, French being the official language of Niger.
Frequently misidentified as derived from the Latin niger (“black"), Niger is derived from a series of mistranslations and geographic misplacements by Greek, Roman and Arab geographers, likely originally from Ptolomey's descriptions of the valley Gir (a wadi in modern Algeria), and the "Lower Gir" ("Ni-Gir") to the south. In one local Berber language, "gher" means "watercourse", and thus may have been derived from Berber tales of large river south of the Sahara desert.