nickname

noun
nick·​name | \ ˈnik-ˌnām How to pronounce nickname (audio) \

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)

nickname

verb
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

Verb

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

Noun

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

Back at Lake Lucerne, Billy ruled the roost, earning two nicknames. Joy Wallace Dickinson, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Lake Eola swans had mighty fierce forefather," 24 June 2018 The nickname stuck, but Council’s name was one that Southern foodies have come to know and revere for generations. Rebecca Angel Baer, Southern Living, "Saying Goodbye to Mama Dip," 24 May 2018 The nickname of the DF-26 ballistic missile is designed to grab attention. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "China's "Guam Killer" Is Forcing B-2s To Practice Strikes From Pearl Harbor," 9 Oct. 2018 In terms of being called the Silent Assassin, Durant probably wouldn’t like that nickname. Connor Letourneau, San Francisco Chronicle, "A dynasty secured," 13 June 2018 There was the Sports Illustrated cover, the gaudy stats, the nickname, and, of course, the complete shutdown of Peyton Manning’s Broncos. Matt Calkins, The Seattle Times, "Is Bobby Wagner the most underappreciated superstar in Seattle sports history?," 20 Feb. 2019 Success, the saying goes, has many fathers, and when the Oscar nickname first became popular, there were many who were eager to take credit for coining it. Ben Zimmer, WSJ, "How Did the Academy Award Become the ‘Oscar’?," 22 Feb. 2019 That name comes from astrology, as do the other nicknames for the various full moons of the year. Jill Kiedaisch, Popular Mechanics, "How a Total Lunar Eclipse Works," 18 Jan. 2019 Aniston will play the mother, Rosie Dickson, who is credited for giving Willowdean the nickname that the novel is named after. Megan Stein, Country Living, "Netflix's New 'Dumplin' Movie Has a Little Bit of Everything We Love," 31 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

There was a bench player nicknamed the Big Ragu and the Michael Jordan of Delaware scoring a career-high 31 points and winking at a former teammate in the stands. Dan Greene, SI.com, "Villanova's Dominance Proves the Power of a Well-Built Program," 3 Apr. 2018 This oddball—nicknamed Valetudo for the Roman goddess of health and hygiene, one of Jupiter's great-granddaughters—is possibly Jupiter's smallest moon, less than a kilometer in diameter. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "12 New Moons of Jupiter Discovered," 17 July 2018 Pruitt's four email addresses include one in the conventional format, pruitt.scott@epa.gov, as well as three others: esp7@epa.gov, adm14pruitt@epa.gov and sooners7@epa.gov, nicknamed after the University of Oklahoma football team. The Washington Post, NOLA.com, "Scott Pruitt has four different EPA email addresses. Lawmakers want to know why.," 12 Apr. 2018 The mandatory vaccine legislation, nicknamed the Lorenzin law after the country’s health minister Beatrice Lorenzin, was introduced last year to combat the troubling increase. Tara John, Time, "How Anti-Vaxxers Could Help Decide Italy's Election," 28 Feb. 2018 That solicitation was withdrawn in October after moves by the city to pitch Brandywine Realty Trust’s adjacent Schuylkill Yards project to Amazon.com Inc. for its new corporate campus, which the Seattle company has nicknamed HQ2. Jacob Adelman, Philly.com, "Amtrak resumes search for 30th St. development overseer with focus on shops, restaurants at station," 21 May 2018 Coupette Gordon's Wine Bar Scout Untitled Owner Tony Conigliaro, a cult cocktail maestro, has been nicknamed the Heston Blumenthal of drinks. Mark Ellwood, Condé Nast Traveler, "19 Best Bars in London," 1 Mar. 2018 Ferguson, famously nicknamed Fergie by the British press, subtly honored her own royal wedding to Prince Andrew with her colorful outfit. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Sarah Ferguson's Green Royal Wedding Dress Was a Subtle Tribute to Her Wedding to Prince Andrew," 12 Nov. 2018 Instead, this giant chrysanthemum — nicknamed the Thousand Bloom Mum — sports more than 1,500 flowers and is the result of some serious attention to detail by the gardeners at the Longwood Garden in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Lauren Smith, House Beautiful, "Meet the Largest Chrysanthemum in North America," 10 Aug. 2015

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

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1536, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for nickname

Noun

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

nickey

Nicklaus

nicknack

nickname

nicknameless

nick off

nick point

Statistics for nickname

Last Updated

17 Apr 2019

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

nickname

noun

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

nickname

verb

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)

nickname

noun
nick·​name | \ ˈnik-ˌnām How to pronounce nickname (audio) \

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.”

nickname

verb
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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More from Merriam-Webster on nickname

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with nickname

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for nickname

Spanish Central: Translation of nickname

Nglish: Translation of nickname for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of nickname for Arabic Speakers

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