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

When Gillian was 8 years old, her hyperactivity — which earned her the nickname Wriggle-Bottom — led her mother to take her to a family doctor. Richard Sandomir,, "Gillian Lynne, 92, choreographer of ‘Cats’," 8 July 2018 Prayuth strengthened ties with the royal household and earned himself the nickname Little Sarit, after Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat, who seized power through a putsch in 1957 and helped raise the monarchy to its paramount role in Thai society. Time, "Thailand’s Leader Promised to Restore Democracy. Instead He's Tightening His Grip," 21 June 2018 The regiment had been fighting almost nonstop in Vietnam since May 1965, earning the nickname the Magnificent Bastards. Garrett M. Graff, WIRED, "The Untold Story of Robert Mueller's Time in Combat," 15 May 2018 Blanco said that his teammates in Argentina gave him the nickname, Chucky, due to his diminutive stature and fearlessness. Jamie Goldberg,, "Timbers midfielder Sebastian Blanco celebrates game-winning goal by donning Chucky mask," 13 May 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

His story explores the fallout that his large, black South Carolina family experienced after his oldest brother, Herbert, nicknamed Moochie, received a life sentence for murdering a white man in 1982. John Eligon, New York Times, "After His Brother Commits Murder, a Journalist Revisits Their Childhood," 6 July 2018 The longer we are glued to an app–a value nicknamed eyeball time–the more money its creators make by selling our attention and access to our personal data to advertisers and others. Haley Sweetland Edwards, Time, "You're Addicted to Your Smartphone. This Company Thinks It Can Change That," 13 Apr. 2018 Later nicknamed Rosemary, her life would be one of struggle, heartache, medical malpractice, and abandonment. Lyz Lenz, Marie Claire, "The Secret Lobotomy of Rosemary Kennedy," 31 Mar. 2017 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

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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Learn More about nickname

Dictionary Entries near nickname






nick off

nick point

Statistics for nickname

Last Updated

30 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).


to express warning or disapproval

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