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Where did this term originate from? According to Etymonline.com, it originates from O.E. eaca, which means to "increase". However, I can't see how the "n" got stuck in there too.

Does anyone have any relevant information?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 17 down vote accepted

Metanalysis strikes again.

The regular outcome of OE eaca would be ick, as in ickname. At some point an ickname became reanalyzed as a nickname, and that's how the word has reached us today.

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9  
+1. BTW, I've never met a nalysis before. Are they nice? –  Robusto Apr 18 '12 at 1:51
    
@Robusto, sparagus is nice but nadders are a bit dangerous –  mgb Apr 18 '12 at 2:06
    
Does 'icky' follow on the same lines and owe its origins to OE ick? –  Kris Apr 18 '12 at 5:30
    
OE eaca: an increase. What has increase to do with 'nickname'? –  Kris Apr 18 '12 at 5:40
4  
It is an additional name, which increases the number of names you have? –  kindall Apr 18 '12 at 6:08

It's metanalysis from an ickname to a nickname.

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A more natural, and logical guess by backward extrapolation would be based on nick rather than ick/ eace:

nick: a short cut, a notch. Hence 'nickname', a short name.

Nick: the devil. Whence, apart from the actual name, an endearing term for that little devil, a 'nickname'.

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If you read the full entry at etymonline then eaca makes sense. –  Matt Эллен Apr 18 '12 at 9:02
    
I had read that early on. And yes, it does. Did I say otherwise? What doesn't though is the down vote. –  Kris Apr 18 '12 at 9:08
    
If you are guessing etymologies, you might think it is a contrast between Nicholas and Nick –  Henry Apr 18 '12 at 9:47
    
Oh yes, Nick is itself a kind of nickname - I was aware of that when I wrote my answer as an alternate thought experiment. –  Kris Apr 18 '12 at 9:55
4  
I would hazard a guess that the downvote is because you're just making something up that is directly at odds with reliable source material; the question is "what is its true etymology", not "make-up-your-own etymology". –  Hellion Apr 18 '12 at 13:44

protected by RegDwigнt Apr 20 '12 at 9:29

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