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

Previously, Badgley played Gossip Girl's Dan Humphrey, the well-meaning sometime-boyfriend to Blake Lively's Serena van der Woodsen, who was often referenced by the nickname Lonely Boy. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Penn Badgley Just Compared You to Gossip Girl & His Characters Are Spookily Alike," 26 Jan. 2019 The nickname is a nod to Dr. Seuss' children's tale, Bartholomew and the Oobleck, in which a magic spell gone awry causes sticky green stuff to rain down from the sky. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "New electrolyte recipe keeps lithium-ion batteries from catching fire," 23 Aug. 2018 However, Claudia Soare, the president of Anastasia Beverly Hills who goes by the nickname Norvina, isn't the first to put together a prominently purple palette. Devon Abelman, Allure, "The 9 Best Purple Eye Shadow Palettes for Acing Summer's Biggest Beauty Trends," 18 July 2018 And so, a rescue mission to get the team, whose nickname is the Wild Boars, out of the cave began on Sunday morning, when 13 specialist divers and five Thai Navy SEALS were sent in to try to reach the boys and escort them out. Emily Stewart, Vox, "The Thai boys cave rescue is underway: what we know so far," 8 July 2018 After two failed presidential bids, López Obrador, whose nickname is AMLO, has tempered his message this year. Joshua Partlow, Anchorage Daily News, "Andrés Manuel López Obrador wins Mexican presidential race," 2 July 2018 After two failed presidential bids, López Obrador, whose nickname is AMLO, has tempered his message this year. Kevin Sieff, Washington Post, "López Obrador, a leftist, wins sweeping mandate in Mexican presidential election," 2 July 2018 The loving parents posted some very cute black-and-white photos of 3-year-old Isaiah, whose nickname is Izzy, at the opening of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City on Friday (June 29). Mitchell Peters, Billboard, "Carrie Underwood Shares Sweet Mother-Son Photo of Her Boy's First Concert," 30 June 2018 The press release from the Chicago Police says Joyce, whose nickname is Strawberry, was last seen wearing a black sweater, red shirt, black leggings and flip flops. Bianca Hillier, NBC News, "Family pleads for help to find missing Chicago mother Joyce Cluchey," 18 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 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

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

6 Feb 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 \

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).


esteemed in general opinion

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