Breast-feed vs nurse

emanko

Senior Member
Arabic- Egyptian
Hello

My question is about the word "breast-feed".

1- Do woman or men use this verb freely and without feeling shy? Or are some people too shy to use this word and try to find another word that doesn't contain the word "breast" in it, such as "to nurse"?

2- If yes, what is this word? Is it "nurse"?

3- And does "nurse" mean "to feed someone" or "to drink the milk"? In other words, who is the subject of the verb: the mother or the baby?

Thank you
 
  • se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Nurse is rather ambiguous: when its object is a baby, I am most familiar with it in this sense (from the OED):
    6b. To hold (a person or thing) caressingly or closely, esp. in the arms or on the lap; to cuddle.
     

    emanko

    Senior Member
    Arabic- Egyptian
    So, you guys are saying that "breast-feed" is used by everyone freely and most people have no reservations on using it?
     

    emanko

    Senior Member
    Arabic- Egyptian
    Great! Thank you, guys.
    That's what I thought too. Butrecently I heard a native speaker use 'nurse", so I assumed she was too shy to say "breastfeed".
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    She may have been too shy, or she may have felt her listener would feel the word was inappropriate for some reason. Either way, you realize that "most people are OK with it" means there are some who may have reservations:)
     

    emanko

    Senior Member
    Arabic- Egyptian
    Th
    She may have been too shy, or she may have felt her listener would feel the word was inappropriate for some reason. Either way, you realize that "most people are OK with it" means there are some who may have reservations:)
    Thank you so much. I appreciate your input.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    And does "nurse" mean "to feed someone" or "to drink the milk"? In other words, who is the subject of the verb: the mother or the baby?
    There's also this meaning of "nurse":
    (of an infant) to feed at the breast
    It's less commonly used nowadays, but you might read something like "The infant was nursing at its mother's breast".
     

    emanko

    Senior Member
    Arabic- Egyptian
    What if it's already known to the listener that the baby still only drinks its mother's breast milk or it doesn't matter whether it's breast-fed or bottle_fed , in this case, can the mother just say, "I'm feeding him"?
     
    Pretty much, yes.
    I'm a mother who has never had any problems talking about a perfectly natural bodily function.;)
    Despite these and other replies, it's still very common to hear mothers saying 'I'm feeding her myself' or asking other mothers 'Are you feeding him yourself?'

    And why not? It's their personal choice to avoid the word breastfeeding, for whatever reason.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I don't think I heard the term 'nursing' until I started reading American magazines in my late 20's and thought was a daft euphemism. On the other hand, we didn't in general talk openly about 'breast- feeding': it was 'feed the baby yourself'.
    I can't comment on how often men use 'breast-feeding'.
     

    emanko

    Senior Member
    Arabic- Egyptian
    On the other hand, we didn't in general talk openly about 'breast- feeding': it was 'feed the baby yourself'.'.
    Thank you.
    I just didn't understand the quoted sentence. Did you mean that you and other mothers of your age don't use "breast-feed" and instead use "feed the baby yourself"? And is that just now or has it always been the case throughout your lifetime?
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    For me, breast-feed is not merely the preferred but the only way to express precisely that function. Nurse and feed are both totally ambiguous: the first can mean cuddle and the second can mean breast-feed, bottle-feed or spoon-feed.
     
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