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)


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

In Black Panther, Erik Killmonger’s (Michael B. Jordan) ruthless skills as an assassin earned him both his nickname and a chest full of scars — tribal marks known as crocodile scarring to mark each one of his kills. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "Michael B. Jordan reveals Killmonger's Black Panther scars were inspired by Denzel Washington in Glory," 7 June 2019 Plenty of families have nicknames for one another, and the Royal Family is no exception. Kara Nesvig, Teen Vogue, "Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Nicknames Have Been Revealed," 5 Aug. 2018 The handle JQLouise is a combination of her family nickname and middle name. Michael Floreak,, "Q&A with Jaqueline Neves, author and influencer," 2 July 2018 Ace’ Anderson needs a new nickname, and Braun is as much a regular as John Cena is in WWE. Kenny Ducey,, "Midseason Report Card: The NL Central Is Baseball's Most Exciting Division," 29 June 2018 Coming up with a nickname like boof adds a layer of comedy and allows people to more comfortably incorporate a mention of it into casual conversation. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "Brett Kavanaugh’s yearbook: the “boof” joke, explained," 27 Sep. 2018 The Telegraph explains that, thanks to his old hairstyle, Harry’s nickname from friends and family is Spike which explains the pseudonym. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Prince Harry Used This Secret Fake Name on Social Media in College," 27 July 2018 Obamacare is the nickname for the Affordable Care Act. NBC News, "What is Obamacare?," 5 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Aspiring actress Elizabeth Short was found dead in 1947, and posthumously nicknamed the Black Dahlia. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "The True Story of I Am the Night: How the Black Dahlia and George Hodel Were Connected," 10 Feb. 2019 So naturally, there are a few theories floating around about what Taylor's new album, nicknamed TS7, will look like. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "These Taylor Swift TS7 Fan Theories Will Blow Your Mind," 29 Apr. 2019 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,, "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,, as well as three others:, and, nicknamed after the University of Oklahoma football team. The Washington Post,, "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 Inc. for its new corporate campus, which the Seattle company has nicknamed HQ2. Jacob Adelman,, "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

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

12 Jun 2019

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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 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.”


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).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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