a name added to or substituted for the proper name of a person, place, etc., as in affection, ridicule, or familiarity: He has always loathed his nickname of “Whizzer.”
a familiar form of a proper name, as Jim for James and Peg for Margaret.

verb (used with object), nick·named, nick·nam·ing.

to give a nickname to (a person, town, etc.); call by a nickname.
Archaic. to call by an incorrect or improper name; misname.

Origin of nickname

1400–50; late Middle English nekename, for ekename (the phrase an ekename being taken as a nekename). See eke2, name; cf. newt
Related formsnick·nam·er, nounun·nick·named, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for nickname

Contemporary Examples of nickname

Historical Examples of nickname

  • His parentage was obscure, and he was generally known only by his nickname of Professor.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • My dear sir, perhaps you don't know that my nickname since the age of five has been 'Duffer?'

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

  • After a joyous ramble, 'Ockley's nickname still sticks to him!'

    Echoes of the War

    J. M. Barrie

  • We call him the Philosopher, a nickname folks have given him in the neighbourhood.

  • This nickname, which she received full in the face for the first time, fell on her like a blow.


    Emile Zola

British Dictionary definitions for nickname



a familiar, pet, or derisory name given to a person, animal, or placehis nickname was Lefty because he was left-handed
a shortened or familiar form of a person's nameJoe is a nickname for Joseph


(tr) to call by a nickname; give a nickname to

Word Origin for nickname

C15 a nekename, mistaken division of an ekename an additional name, from eke addition + name
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 nickname

mid-15c., misdivision of ekename (c.1300), an eke name, literally "an additional name," from Old English eaca "an increase," related to eacian "to increase" (see eke; also see N). As a verb from 1530s. Related: Nicknamed; nicknaming.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper