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 ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.