February 12, 2012
- nickname (noun)
- What does it mean?
- 1 : an often descriptive name (as "Shorty" or "Buddy") given in addition to the one belonging to an individual2 : a form of a proper name (as "Billy" for "William") used by family or friends
- How do you use it?
- Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the United States who is often called by the nickname Honest Abe, was born on this day in 1809.
- Are you a word wiz?
The word "nickname" traces to the older word "ekename." The meaning of the "name" part of "ekename" is clear, but what do you think "eke-" meant?Back in the Middle Ages, people used the word "eke" for "something added on." Logically, an "ekename" was an extra name added on to the regular name of a person or place. But clearly, it is hard to say the words "an ekename," and many people got confused about the word. When someone said "an ekename," listeners thought the person was saying "a nekename." Because of that confusion, "ekename" gradually became "nekename." By the 1600s, a few more spelling changes had given us the modern form, "nickname."