Judy from Beaver Island
asked about the word niche. First, let’s tackle the pronunciation.
Since it came through
the French language, Europeans tend to pronounce it as neesh. Americans favor nitch (rhymes with witch). A third pronunciation—possibly
seen as a compromise by some—is nish (rhymes with wish). So where you live or to whom you are speaking
can make a difference.
Originally, a niche was
a recess in a wall designed to hold a statue, an urn, or some other decorative
object. Later, it came to mean a natural hollow in a rock or a hill, and it was
applied to an animal lair and, by extension, to a place of refuge for a human
These days, it is most
often used figuratively to denote a position suitable for one’s talents,
disposition, or status: she has finally found her niche in life. In ecology, it is applied to the natural
position of an organism in its ecosystem. In business, it is applied to a
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