nickname

1 of 2

noun

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

2 of 2

verb

nicknamed; nicknaming; nicknames

transitive verb

1
2
: to give a nickname to
nicknamer noun

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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
June 29, 2024 at 9:14 a.m. Listen to this article Orlando Cepeda, the iconic San Francisco Giant Hall of Famer slugger who died Friday night at 86, was a man of many nicknames and many different facets of life. Bill Madden, New York Daily News, 29 June 2024 But then again, nobody ever expected Lou Barlow and John Davis, the duo with the indie rock in-joke nickname, to be anything more than the sum of their parts. Joe Gross, SPIN, 28 June 2024
Verb
June’s full moon has traditionally been nicknamed the strawberry moon, but don’t be deceived by the name: Its origin has nothing to do with the moon’s hue or appearance, according to the Almanac. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, 16 June 2024 This development vehicle, later nicknamed Center Steer, was partly built using components from a US military Jeep. Bob Sorokanich, Robb Report, 18 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for nickname 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'nickname.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

First Known Use

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1536, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near nickname

Cite this Entry

“Nickname.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nickname. Accessed 15 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

nickname

1 of 2 noun
nick·​name ˈnik-ˌnām How to pronounce nickname (audio)
1
: an often descriptive name (as "Shorty" or "Tex") given in addition to the one belonging to an individual
2
: a form of a proper name (as "Billy" for "William") used by family or friends

nickname

2 of 2 verb
: to give a nickname to
Etymology

Noun

Middle English nekename "an additional name," from the phrase an ekename (misunderstood as being a nekename), from eke "something added on" and name "name"

Word Origin
The Middle English word eke meant "something added on." An ekename was therefore an added name given to a person or place. Many people who heard the phrase "an ekename," however, thought they were hearing "a nekename." Because of that confusion over the course of many years, the word ekename became nekename. Later changes in spelling have given us the modern word nickname.

More from Merriam-Webster on nickname

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