1. A descriptive name added to or replacing the actual name of a person, place, or thing.
2. A familiar or shortened form of a proper name.
tr.v. nick·named, nick·nam·ing, nick·names
1. To give a nickname to.
2. Archaic To call by an incorrect name; misname.
[Middle English neke name, from a neke name, alteration of an eke name : eke, addition (from Old English ēaca; see aug- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots) + name, name; see NAME.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.