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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from nickname


nicknamer noun

Synonyms for nickname

Synonyms: Noun

alias, byname, cognomen, epithet, handle, moniker (also monicker), sobriquet (also soubriquet), surname

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

At first glance, the R1 (just an internal nickname, not the official name) looks like a giant lunchbox on wheels. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, "Self-driving delivery startup Nuro releases its voluntary safety report," 13 Sep. 2018 My affinity for dipping sauces and my tendency to fix a plate like a painter’s palette with a dollop of every sauce available earned me the nickname of Condiment Queen in college. Elissa Sanci, Woman's Day, "I Ate Like Queen Elizabeth For a Week, and It Was a Royal Pain," 18 Apr. 2019 Back at Lake Lucerne, Billy ruled the roost, earning two nicknames. Joy Wallace Dickinson,, "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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about nickname

Dictionary Entries near nickname






nick off

nick point

Statistics for nickname

Last Updated

15 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for nickname

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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 speak slightingly about or to degrade

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!