Definition of nickname in English:



  • A familiar or humorous name given to a person or thing instead of or as well as the real name.

    ‘Mallender's fair complexion gave rise to his nickname ‘Ghost’’
    • ‘It was his first name, but we always went by nicknames or first names.’
    • ‘Amara is not my real name, it is a cruel nickname forced upon me by the spoiled daughters of the master.’
    • ‘It is not uncommon for an estate owner to be known by a nickname or abbreviated name.’
    • ‘It was clearly ruled that members should be referred to by their correct names, not by nicknames.’
    • ‘They were using familiar nicknames for each other since the child was very close to his mentor and defender.’
    • ‘Most people weren't generally familiar with his nickname; he was too serious a person.’
    • ‘There are a lot of different kinds of railway cars, their names and nicknames familiar to most people, but there are only a few that bear the name of their inventor.’
    • ‘In some places the victims even learn the names or nicknames of those who abused them.’
    • ‘Bob Clarke gave me the nickname and instead of discouraging it, I went along with it.’
    • ‘The four-times World Cup champions are the only major sporting country in which athletes are most commonly known by their first names or nicknames.’
    • ‘But then I also have trouble changing from a full name to a nickname for people.’
    • ‘He told her again, feeling her head jerk as he used her nickname instead of her full name.’
    • ‘Will had given their proper names, instead of their shortened nicknames.’
    • ‘However, the names or the nicknames of the authors, unlike print encyclopaedias, do not appear at the bottom of the articles.’
    • ‘Finally, I have to regret the use of first names and nicknames for women, while men are given surnames, honorifics and initials.’
    • ‘My advice - don't store the email addresses of friends and family under their names, but under nicknames…’
    • ‘No, the member cannot refer to members by nicknames or Christian names.’
    • ‘He said that people were known by their nicknames rather than their real names, so he would not have known him as Fred.’
    • ‘Many Vikings also had a nickname which was used instead of their family name.’
    • ‘My mom uses baby talk with her, calling her new-found names and nicknames on the spur of the moment.’
    sobriquet, byname, tag, label, familiar name, epithet
    pet name, diminutive, term of endearment, endearment, affectionate name
    appellation, cognomen
    byword, eke-name, to-name
    View synonyms


  • Give a nickname to.

    ‘an area nicknamed Sniper's Alley’
    • ‘Meantime her relationship with her screen love-interest Richard Gere turned arctic as he grew impatient with her erratic behaviour, calling her unstable and nicknaming her ‘Nervous Nellie’.’
    • ‘It's the sort of extreme pronouncement one has come to expect from Chávez, known for nicknaming the stations ‘the four horsemen of the apocalypse.’’
    • ‘And being nicknamed the Toffeemen isn't harming Everton, currently fourth in the Premiership.’
    • ‘Hospital chaplains have even nicknamed the ducklings the 12 disciples.’
    • ‘From what I have read, Chicago is nicknamed the windy city for different reasons.’
    • ‘He said he nicknamed her ‘eight-ball’ because of the black bruising on her face.’
    • ‘On their barrels the crews have nicknamed their armoured behemoths.’
    • ‘Miss Wilcox had worn the cap almost every day since buying it a year ago and was nicknamed Ted and Edward because of the brand name.’
    • ‘She has been nicknamed the lioness of the African radio waves as she tears into politicians with her no-holds-barred approach.’
    • ‘You can answer almost any question people ask, and have thus been nicknamed Jeeves.’
    • ‘Her care for children led to her being nicknamed Auntie Joan.’
    • ‘The best that can be said for providing the nickname here is that Bush's propensity for nicknaming everyone is so well known that no one is misled that the ‘Kenny Boy’ nickname means anything.’
    • ‘In the US it is nicknamed the ‘devil's drug’ and blamed for addiction and social problems.’
    • ‘The new entertainment centre has such a distinctive shape the young people around town have nicknamed it already.’
    • ‘We nicknamed her Skippy cos she skips around when she dances!’
    • ‘He was nicknamed Starlight because his character changed so much once the stars appeared.’
    • ‘Some who have heard the ‘piano man’, as he has been nicknamed, believe he may be a professional musician.’
    • ‘London has been nicknamed Harare North; Edmonton in Canada has been christened Bulawayo.’
    • ‘He had two motorbikes, which he nicknamed Jessie James and Valerie James.’
    • ‘Skipjack tuna, or skippies, as they are nicknamed, can be seen flashing their silver just under the surface.’


Late Middle English: from an eke-name ( eke meaning ‘addition’: see eke), misinterpreted, by wrong division, as a neke name.