masc. proper name, from French Nicolas, from Latin Nicholaus, Nicolaus, from Greek Nikholaos, literally "victory-people," from nikē "victory" (see Nike) + laos "people" (see lay (adj.)). The saint (died 326 C.E.) was a bishop of Myra in Lycia, patron of scholars, especially schoolboys. A popular given name in England in the Middle Ages (the native form, Nicol, was more common in early Middle English), as was the fem. form Nicolaa, corresponding to French Nicole. Colloquial Old Nick "the devil" is attested from 1640s, evidently from the proper name, but for no certain reason.
masc. proper name, from French Colin, a diminutive of Col, itself a diminutive of Nicolas (see Nicholas). A common shepherd's name in pastoral verse.
surname, a spelling variant of Nickson, literally "son of (a man named) Nick, English familiar form of Nicholas. Nixonian is from 1959 in reference to the ways and means of U.S. vice president (later president) Richard M. Nixon (1913-1994). Related: Nixonite; Nixonomics.
also nicotin, poisonous volatile alkaloid base found in tobacco leaves, 1819, from French nicotine, earlier nicotiane, from Modern Latin Nicotiana, the formal botanical name for the tobacco plant, named for Jean Nicot (c. 1530-1600), French ambassador to Portugal, who sent tobacco seeds and powdered leaves from Lisbon to France 1561. His name is a diminutive of Nicolas (see Nicholas).
"kind of coarse, dark rye bread made from unbolted rye," c. 1740, pumpernicle, pumpernickle, from German (Westphalian dialect) Pumpernickel (1663), originally an abusive nickname for a stupid person, from pumpern "to break wind" + Nickel "goblin, lout, rascal," from the proper name Niklaus (see Nicholas). Originally it was eaten especially in Westphalia; an earlier German name for it was krankbrot, literally "sick-bread."
whitish metal element, 1755, the name was coined in 1754 by Swedish mineralogist Axel von Cronstedt (1722-1765) from shortening of Swedish kopparnickel "copper-colored ore" (from which it was first obtained), a half-translation of German Kupfernickel, literally "copper demon," from Kupfer (see copper) + Nickel "demon, goblin, rascal" (a pet form of masc. proper name Nikolaus (compare English Old Nick "the devil;" see Nicholas). According to OED, the ore was so called by miners because it looked like copper but yielded none.
Meaning "coin made partly of nickel" is from 1857, when the U.S. introduced one-cent coins made of nickel to replace the old bulky copper pennies. Application to five-cent piece (originally one part nickel, three parts copper) is from 1883; in earlier circulation there were silver half-dimes. To nickel-and-dime (someone) "make or keep (someone) poor by accumulation of trifling expenses," is by from 1964 (nickels and dimes "very small amounts of money" is attested from 1893).
type of sloped roof, 1734, from French mansarde, short for toit à la mansarde, a corrupt spelling, named for French architect Nicholas François Mansart (1598-1666), who made use of them.
1773 (as St. A Claus, in "New York Gazette"), American English, in reference to the customs of the old Dutch colony of New York, from dialectal Dutch Sante Klaas, from Middle Dutch Sinter Niklaas "Saint Nicholas," bishop of Asia Minor who became a patron saint for children. Now a worldwide phenomenon (Japanese santakurosu). Father Christmas is attested from 1650s.