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  1. a letter or parcel that is undeliverable by the post office because of a faulty or illegible address.

Origin of nixie1

First recorded in 1880–85; nix1 + -ie


noun German Folklore.
  1. a female water spirit.

Origin of nixie2

1810–20; < German Nixe (Middle High German nickese, Old High German nicchessa; see nix2), perhaps construed at time of borrowing as nix2 + -ie
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for nixie

Historical Examples

  • Her face was flushed and her nixie eyes were dancing to the mischief she contemplated.

    An Orkney Maid

    Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr

  • Tom and Nixie departed, followed by praise from all the Wyndhams.

    The Wyndam Girls

    Marion Ames Taggart

  • Get into the house, Nixie, you crazy pup; you've lost your walk.

    The Wyndam Girls

    Marion Ames Taggart

  • "You mustn't let Nixie bother you; he'll try to be friendly," warned Tom.

    The Wyndam Girls

    Marion Ames Taggart

  • Tom—and Nixie, as a matter of course—were due at the apartment that afternoon.

    The Wyndam Girls

    Marion Ames Taggart

British Dictionary definitions for nixie


  1. German myth a female water sprite, usually unfriendly to humans

Word Origin

C19: see nix
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for nixie


"water fairy," 1816 (introduced by Sir Walter Scott), from German Nixie, from Old High German nihhussa "water sprite," fem. of nihhus, from Proto-Germanic *nikwiz (cf. Old Norse nykr, Old English nicor "water spirit, water monster," also used to gloss hippopotamus; Grendel's mother in "Beowulf" was a nicor), perhaps from PIE *neigw- "to wash" (cf. Sanskrit nenkti "washes," Greek nizo "I wash," Old Irish nigid "washes").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper