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1. A recess in a wall, as for holding a statue or urn.
2. 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.
tr.v. niched, nich·ing, nich·es
To place in a niche.
[French, from Old French, from nichier, to nest (from 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.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
(Architecture) architect with niches
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014