What does the expression/idiom "feather your nest" mean? I see a lot of references to it but I can't seem to figure out its meaning.

closed as general reference by aedia λ, Hugo, z7sg Ѫ, kiamlaluno, waiwai933 Nov 15 '11 at 5:14

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Did you try googling? I found several references with a simple search. – simchona Oct 21 '11 at 1:22
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    Do you have a specific context in mind? If you take a look at definitions like these for feather one's own nest you'll see that it can refer to furnishing one's home as well as being selfish. – aedia λ Oct 21 '11 at 1:51
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    It's often difficult to get a sense of the implications from google or a dictionary – mgb Oct 21 '11 at 3:20
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    All that being said, despite the downvotes and it being closed this question has been viewed over 2500 times and is the first result now when googling for the meaning of this idiom. So I'm happy that my incredibly basic question is still helping other people today. – Hanna Jul 15 '13 at 15:04

"Feather your nest" means to make a profit from some activity.

But it implies that you achieved this because of your position or not entirely honestly. So a politician who leaves office and then goes to work for a company who he had favored- not quite outright theft or bribery, but definitely suspect.

It comes from the sense of buying things to make your home or life (i.e. nest) more comfortable.


"Feathers" are a prime commodity that would make a (bird's) nest more comfortable than the average nest.

"Feathering one's nest" means making one's home or life in general fancier, or more comfortable than those of other similarly situated individuals, usually in the same neighborhood.

That's why it sometimes has "suspect" connotations referred to in Martin Beckett's answer (e.g. "How could 'one of us' live so much better?")

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