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

Given that Queen Bee, a common nickname for Beyoncé, hasn't been singing since the '50s, many online instead ran with the empress part of the clue. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "This Fan Theory of Who Is the Bee on 'The Masked Singer' Is Definitely Right," 10 Jan. 2019 Markle and her father-in-law have a sweet relationship: Prince Charles walked her down the aisle on her wedding day, and reportedly has an awesome nickname for her. D. Elizabeth, Glamour, "Meghan Markle Has Been Wearing Her Wedding Gift from Prince Charles for Months," 23 Oct. 2018 Big Rob’’ — a nickname that perfectly fit the assistant managing editor who stood 6-foot-5. David Mcfadden,, "Newspaper shooter sent ‘kill’ letter before attack, police say," 3 July 2018 In the spring the local press decided that this trio, like every great threesome (Charlie’s Angels, the Three Stooges), needed a nickname. Greg Bishop,, "Run TMC Lives on as the Rare Team Celebrated for Style Rather Than Record," 28 June 2018 Big Ben, the nickname for the Great Bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster across from Parliament Square Gardens, is 315 feet tall. Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY, "Diaper-clad 'Trump Baby' blimp to fly over London during president's visit," 5 July 2018 Waynesville Police even have a nickname for the suspect. Mark Price, charlotteobserver, "'Granny thief' on the loose in NC town. Cops seeking tips 'before she strikes again'," 29 June 2018 The tasting room, called the Old Walrus after a nickname for Arizona's first governor, George W.P. Hunt, opened in mid-May inside the Tempe distillery. Kellie Hwang, azcentral, "Micah Olson gets behind the bar of Arizona Distilling Co.'s new cocktail lounge," 27 June 2018 Champions of the West is a reference to a nickname for University of Michigan's football team. Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Large riverside development site in Milwaukee's Harbor District sold to San Diego investor," 27 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 In Huitzuco, a town in the lawless state of Guerrero, Mario Vergara, a slightly built, voluble man nicknamed the Atomic Ant, pores over medical books, training himself to recognize bones of the human skeleton. Juan Montes, WSJ, "‘It’s a Crisis of Civilization in Mexico.’ 250,000 Dead. 37,400 Missing.," 14 Nov. 2018 But the reason for that because in the animated series, Ash never nicknamed his pokémon. Megan Farokhmanesh, The Verge, "Pokémon’s creators are divided on whether to use nicknames," 15 Oct. 2018 Vandals repeatedly set a seven-mile-long conveyor belt, nicknamed Serpentine, ablaze at the Kouaoua mine owned by Eramet SA -run Société Le Nickel. Rhiannon Hoyle, WSJ, "New Caledonians Vote No on Frexit, Will Maintain French Connection," 4 Nov. 2018 Upon motoring up to a private shore, his loyal friend — a stingray nicknamed Georgette — swam up to greet us. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "How to Vacation Like the Royal Family in the Bahamas," 30 Aug. 2018 There's an All-Star campaign ongoing for Wilson Ramos, the catcher once nicknamed Buffalo, here in Tampa. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Wilson Ramos, Rays sting Justin Verlander in Astros' loss," 30 June 2018 The president known for nicknaming adversaries (Lyin' Ted, Crooked Hillary, Little Marco, etc.) has some of his own. Lisa Gutierrez, kansascity, "Crunch time: People are paying Stormy Daniels to stomp on Cheetos | The Kansas City Star," 8 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

23 Jan 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



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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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

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 settle judicially or to act as judge

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