from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A descriptive name added to or replacing the actual name of a person, place, or thing.
  • noun A familiar or shortened form of a proper name.
  • transitive verb To give a nickname to.
  • transitive verb Archaic To call by an incorrect name; misname.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A name given to a person in contempt, derision, or reproach; an opprobrious or contemptuous appellation.
  • noun A familiar or diminutive name.
  • To give a nickname to.
  • To apply a familiar or diminutive name to: as, John, nicknamed Jack.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A name given in affectionate familiarity, sportive familiarity, contempt, or derision; a familiar or an opprobrious appellation.
  • transitive verb To give a nickname to; to call by a nickname.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A familiar, invented given name for a person or thing used instead of the actual name of the person or thing.
  • noun A kind of byname that describes a person by a characteristic of that person.
  • verb transitive To give a nickname to (a person or thing).

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a familiar name for a person (often a shortened version of a person's given name)
  • noun a descriptive name for a place or thing
  • verb give a nickname to


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English neke name, from a neke name, alteration of an eke name : eke, addition (from Old English ēaca; see aug- in Indo-European roots) + name, name; see name.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English nekename ("nickname"), alteration (due to an incorrect division of the words an ekename as a nekename) of previous ekename ("nickname"), from eke ("also, additional") + name ("name"). Compare Old Norse aukanafn ("nickname") and Low German Ökelname, Ekelname ("nickname").


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  • "Nickname comes from an Old English expression, an eke name. Eke meant 'also'. It was your 'other' name. Over time, the n of an got transferred to the beginning of eke. An eke became a neke. The pronunciation changed, and the spelling, and eventually we get the modern word."

    -By Hook or By Crook by David Crystal, p 92

    December 15, 2008

  • So is eke meaning "also" cognate with the German auch? Sehr interessant, as they used to say on Laugh-In.

    December 15, 2008