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I know people can use language however they want, but I recently heard someone claim that “niche of people” was a phrase. I had not heard it before and disagreed that it was a phrase people used. The usage in a sentence given to me was “She had found her niche of people.” I argued that the correct usage would be more like “She had found her niche among these people” or something like that, and they had conflated these two pieces (finding a place, and that place being with people) together.

Google does show instances of “niche of people” but plenty of people write incorrect things on the internet, and I haven’t been able to find a dictionary entry that supports that usage. I figure that people here might have a better method that I don’t know about to judge the correctness of a phrase other than “someone at some point wrote this phrase on the internet” or “there is a specific dictionary entry for this.” Thanks!

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  • Both the senses "a place, employment, status, or activity for which a person or thing is best fitted" and "the ecological role of an organism in a community especially in regard to food consumption" seem relevant. And you can modify almost any noun with "of" + noun, whether or not they're "collective nouns". You seem really passionate about this being incorrect, so I'm not sure what evidence you would accept that it's OK, maybe you can explain.
    – Stuart F
    Nov 7, 2023 at 9:37
  • I agree that both senses seem relevant, but the usage just felt a little awkward. The <noun> of <other noun> construction is a good point, I hadn’t thought of it from that perspective, and I think it makes more sense that way, like “King of England” is “the ruler in a country”, and “niche of people” would be like “place in a group.” Mostly I was also wondering what sort of measurements are used to determine additional definitions of words, like, how do dictionaries decide if a word should have a new meaning? And what would such a method show in this case? Nov 7, 2023 at 11:52
  • 'A niche group ...' is what I'd use. But there are plenty examples on the internet of “niche of people”. Nov 7, 2023 at 12:59
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    I played with various phrases in Ngram. Mostly the idiom is 'a niche group' (of people) or 'a niche interest' (of that said group).
    – Nigel J
    Nov 7, 2023 at 17:42
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    That would definitely be a nonstandard use of niche, in my opinion. Yes, like anything, you can find it used like that on the internets. But the OED — not that it's the be-all end-all — does not show anything like that. Nov 8, 2023 at 2:40

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niche (n.)

A specialized market
M-W

Business (originally U.S.). A position from which an entrepreneur seeks to exploit a shortcoming or an opportunity in an economy, market, etc.; (hence) a specialized market for a product or service
[OED]


Niche is used more broadly than commercial market to mean an audience or group of devotees and, more generally any group of people fulfilling some criteria (even detractors). However, I haven't yet found a dictionary that has caught up with this more general, non-commercial meaning of cohort.

So the mirror strategy is all about looking in the mirror and choosing a niche of people who are like you.
David Steele; From Therapist to Coach (2011)

You have developed a special unique niche of your own—a niche of people who have become fans of your artwork.
RD King; Essential Marketing Tools and Strategies

The drama playing out in the human niche of people at Sonfon is not any better. People there reported increased rates of stomach, skin, and respiratory ailments.
Richard Marcantonio; Environmental Violence (2022)

Indeed, I don't know how many readers are acquainted with Atzeni given the fact that the critical interest in his work has failed to go beyond the niche of friends and readers that accompanied him faithfully throughout his life.
Federica Santini; The Politics of Poetics (2014)

A paradigmatic example if offered by Georges Brassens's fortune in other European countries in the 1950s and 1960s: non-French singer-songwriters (like Italian cantautori) began 'to be influenced' by his songs at a time when Brassens was probably one the least known auteurs-compositeurs-interprètes outside France (or, rather, known only by a niche of enthusiasts, while other auteurs-compositeurs-interprètes like Charles Trenet and Gilbert Bécaud, had access to radio, television and the cecord market).
Isabelle Marc and Stuart Green; The Singer-Songwriter in Europe (2015)

By the way, the philosophy of our team is to define the niche of patients in whom the safety-efficacy makes it advantageous or at least compares favorably with open neurosurgery.
Michael Lim et al.; Handbook of Radiosurgery in CNS Disease (2013)

Allison may not be famous by the traditional definition; certainly nobody here seems to recognize her. But to a devoted niche of online fans—and an even more devoted niche of detractors—she is a bona fide celebrity.
Joan Gorham; Annual Editions: Mass Media 09/10 (2009)

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