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

An Indians spokesman said the organization is not considering a change of the team’s nickname. Washington Post, "Benched: Chief Wahoo not All-Star this time in Cleveland," 5 July 2019 Socrates' nickname 'the doctor' didn't just come about as a result of his surgical precision on the football field., "50 Greatest South American Footballers of All Time," 4 July 2019 That size and those colorful nicknames carried a wonderful everyman quality that resonated with fans far beyond Kentucky’s borders. Gentry Estes, The Courier-Journal, "There will never be another like Kentucky football great Jared Lorenzen," 3 July 2019 President Donald Trump has made disparaging nicknames his go-to for political insults. Andrea Mandell, USA TODAY, "'Seinfeld': 30 ways the 'show about nothing' is still something 30 years later," 3 July 2019 However, every now and again Mother (McGrath's nickname) cuts us a break and delights us with a surprise sale. Glamour, "Every Pat McGrath Labs Product Is On Sale Right Now," 3 July 2019 Barata clarified this: one of García’s nicknames was Crazy Horse; a chalán is someone who takes care of horses. Daniel Alarcón, The New Yorker, "What Led Peru’s Former President to Take His Own Life?," 1 July 2019 Baby India's distinctive nickname was bestowed on her by the Ragatz family, who found her on June 6. Susan Scutti, CNN, "Thousands want to adopt Baby India, found swaddled in a plastic bag in Georgia," 28 June 2019 The name was my brother’s nickname at North Ridgeville High School. John Benson,, "Cocky’s Bagels parlays food truck success into recently opened North Olmsted location," 27 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Retirement bill: On May 23, the House overwhelmingly passed HR1994, nicknamed the Secure Act. Kathleen Pender,, "Where we stand on bills to promote savings for kids, college and retirement," 29 June 2019 Throw in a human toddler nicknamed Boo, who ends up in the guys’ care after getting lost in the monster world, and things get a bit more special. Allegra Frank, Vox, "All 21 Pixar movies, definitively ranked," 27 June 2019 Regulars have nicknamed the women the Golden Girls. Jen Murphy, WSJ, "She’s Powerlifting at 76, So You’re Officially Out of Excuses," 29 Dec. 2018 The alligator, who Ward has nicknamed George, will be relocated to safe place out of harm's way later today. Vanesa Brashier, Houston Chronicle, "Massive alligator stops US 59 traffic in Cleveland," 30 Apr. 2018 The whale, nicknamed Allie by local observers, has thrilled boaters and sightseers, but her presence has marine biologists worried about her health. Taylor Kate Brown,, "Bay Briefing: ‘Cult’ winery defends itself — and its value," 18 June 2019 Local Realtor Babs Fry, who also runs a nonprofit that rescues hard-to-catch pets, secured the dog, nicknamed Roadrunner, and brought him to the shelter. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Local animal shelter warns of possible coyote encounters as weather heats up," 13 June 2019 Researchers believe the cub, nicknamed Spartak, died shortly after birth. N'dea Yancey-bragg, USA TODAY, "The 30,000-year-old severed head of a wolf, with teeth and fur, has been found in Siberia. And it's gnarly," 11 June 2019 Their tiny Lunar Excursion Module, nicknamed Eagle, was designed to land them on the moon’s Sea of Tranquility — it was not designed to give them a tranquil night’s sleep. Roger Simmons, The Seattle Times, "Apollo 11 astronauts were sleepless in the Sea of Tranquility on moon," 12 Apr. 2019

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

10 Jul 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 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).


food or victuals

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