Nephew - Encyclopedia




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NEPHEW, the son of a brother or sister. The word is adapted from Fr. neveu, Lat. nepos (originally "grandson" or "descendant"). The O. Eng. nefa survived in the form neve till the t 5th century; this represents the Teutonic branch, cf. Ger. Neffe, Dutch neef; the ultimate root is seen in the cognate Gr. 41ro &ES "descendants" av€1'ti "kinsman," and Sans. napat, napt, " descendants" or "descendant." The correlative "niece," the daughter of a brother or sister, is from Fr. niece, Lat. neptis, the feminine form of nepos; the O. Eng. word was nift, cf. Ger. Nichte. A euphemistic use of "nephew" is that of the natural son of a pope, cardinal or other ecclesiastic; and from the practice of granting preferments to such children the word "nepotism" is used of any favouritism shown in finding positions for a man's family.

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