nick·name | \ˈnik-ˌnām \

Definition of nickname 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a usually descriptive name given instead of or in addition to the one belonging to a person, place, or thing

2 : a familiar form of a proper name (as of a person or a city)


nicknamed; nicknaming; nicknames

Definition of nickname (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

2 : to give a nickname to

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Other Words from nickname


nicknamer noun

Synonyms for nickname

Synonyms: Noun

alias, byname, cognomen, epithet, handle, moniker (also monicker), sobriquet (also soubriquet), surname

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History of Nickname

It might look like nickname is a compound noun formed by adding nick and name together, but the actual history of this word is a bit more complicated. It was formed by metanalysis, or the changing of the division of words based upon how they sound together. In this case, the Middle English word eke, meaning “also” or “in addition,” was joined with name to form ekename—literally, “also-name,” used for a secondary or unofficial name in the late Middle Ages. Over time, an ekename became a nickname presumably because eke had become less familiar as a word. Needless to say, nick in this case doesn’t mean “also” or anything else, it just represents a comfortable and familiar alternative to the word’s original spelling.

Examples of nickname in a Sentence


His mother gave him the nickname “Winky” when he was a baby. Earvin “Magic” Johnson got his nickname from the way he handled a basketball.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Trump frequently took to calling Warren by the nickname Pocahontas during his presidential campaign, both to mock her ties to the Native American community and to call into question whether the claims were true. Natasha Bach, Fortune, "Remember That Nasty Trump-Warren 'Pocahontas' Feud? It's Back," 6 July 2018 The foursome sketched out the plan over the course of their summer vacation after freshman year, using nicknames from Reservoir Dogs to identify each other., "American Animals," 20 June 2018 Much of the campaign’s vitriol was fueled by Rokita, who embraced Trump's brash rhetorical style and often used derogatory nicknames to refer to his opponents. Maureen Groppe, Indianapolis Star, "Indiana Senate race: Mike Braun wins GOP primary in huge upset over 2 sitting congressmen," 8 May 2018 The Republicans have adopted Trump's hard-line immigration rhetoric and his affinity for mocking opponents with derisive nicknames. Bill Barrow,, "Primaries kick off: What to know about the top races in 4 states," 8 May 2018 In Brown’s first two terms as governor, from 1975 to 1983, he was called Governor Moonbeam, but the nickname (bestowed on him by Chicago’s merciless columnist Mike Royko) never quite captured the complexity of his politics. Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker, "Inside California’s War on Trump," 19 Mar. 2018 Video of the incident shot by Austin went viral over the weekend, with Ettel earning the nickname #PermitPatty. Paula Rogo,, "Oh Well! Woman Who Called The Cops On Black Girl Selling Water Says Backlash Is Hurting Her Marijuana Business," 26 June 2018 Republicans seemed confused about the nickname, too. Maureen Groppe, Indianapolis Star, "8 takeaways from Trump's speech at Elkhart rally," 11 May 2018 In each case, the party accused of profiling has earned a nickname to identify them on social media. Justin L. Mack, Indianapolis Star, "A video showing alleged racial profiling in Indianapolis went viral. This is the fallout.," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

While the story of Plane Bae, as it was affectionately nicknamed, continued to spread around the internet in one conveniently packaged, shareable moment, real life carried on — and real life comes with consequences. Kathryn Lindsay,, "There's No Such Thing As A "Good" Viral Moment Anymore," 10 July 2018 It was nicknamed by some residents of the Haralson Estates neighborhood several years ago, as plants, trees and muck took refuge in the water, with garbage floating among it. Ryan Gillespie,, "Orlando's muck- and junk-filled 'Lake Nasty' could be in line for a cleanup," 6 July 2018 The mega-machine is officially called Cray XC50, but nicknamed ATERUI II. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "The Fastest Supercomputer for Astronomy Comes Online in Japan," 1 June 2018 That tally includes a giant found in 2009 and nicknamed Dracula by researchers, which is now a contender for the largest pterosaur that ever lived. National Geographic, "Ancient Flying Predator Found in Transylvania," 8 May 2018 Transformative groups tend to get nicknamed around here. Gregg Doyel, Indianapolis Star, "Doyel: Purdue's seniors changed everything and still didn't get a nickname," 25 Feb. 2018 Later nicknamed the Nolan Ryan Express, he would be known as one of the hardest-throwing pitchers the game of baseball had ever seen, terrifying batters with his fastballs and imposing manner on the mound. Craig Hlavaty, Houston Chronicle, "The Nolan Ryan Express turns 71 years old," 31 Jan. 2018 Beltrán’s impact was impossible for the Nerd Cave—which Sig’s analytics group had nicknamed itself—to quantify, but the young shortstop Carlos Correa attempted to attach a number to it: seven. Ben Reiter,, "Why Carlos Beltrán Was the Perfect Addition to Aid the Astros' Journey to the World Series," 9 July 2018 The elderly arbor, which has been nicknamed Italus, is about 155 years older than the 1,075-year-old Bosnian pine in Greece that previously held the title of Europe’s most senior tree. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Europe’s Oldest Known Tree Discovered in Italy," 29 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nickname.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of nickname


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1536, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for nickname


Middle English nekename additional name, alteration (resulting from misdivision of an ekename) of ekename, from eke eke, also + name name

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Dictionary Entries near nickname






nick off

nick point

Statistics for nickname

Last Updated

16 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for nickname

The first known use of nickname was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for nickname



English Language Learners Definition of nickname

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a name (such as “Moose” or “Lady Bird”) that is different from your real name but is what your family, friends, etc., call you when they are talking to you or about you



English Language Learners Definition of nickname (Entry 2 of 2)

: to give (someone) a name that is not that person's real name : to give a nickname to (someone)


nick·name | \ˈnik-ˌnām \

Kids Definition of nickname

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a usually descriptive name used in addition to a person's given name My brother had the nickname “Nosy.”

2 : a familiar form of a proper name “Bill” and “Willie” are nicknames for “William.”


nicknamed; nicknaming

Kids Definition of nickname (Entry 2 of 2)

: to give a usually descriptive name to that is additional to a given name

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Comments on nickname

What made you want to look up nickname? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one that holds something together

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