Words related to N
mid-15c., neke name, a misdivision of ekename (c. 1300), an eke name, "a familiar or diminutive name," especially one given in derision or reproach, literally "an additional name," from Old English eaca "an increase," related to eacian "to increase" (cognate with Old Norse auka-nefi, auknafn, Swedish öknamn, Danish ögenavn; see eke; also see N). As a verb, "to give a nickname to," from 1530s. Related: Nicknamed; nicknaming.
"small, tailed, salamander-like amphibian," early 15c., neute, newte, a misdivision of an ewte (see N for other examples), a variation of Middle English evete (see eft). "Eft, though now only provincial, is strictly the correct form" [Century Dictionary]. OED notes that "the change of v to w is unusual."
in phrase for the nonce (Middle English for þe naness, c. 1200) "for a special occasion, for a particular purpose," a misdivision (see N for other examples) of for þan anes "for the once," in reference to a particular occasion or purpose, the þan being an altered form of the Middle English dative definite article þam (see the). The phrase was used from early 14c. as an empty filler in metrical composition.
(obsolete), late 14c., pigges-nie, an endearing form of address to a girl or woman, apparently from Middle English pigges eye, literally "pig's eye," from pig (n.1) + neyghe, a variant of eye (n.) with unetymological -n- from min eye, an eye, etc. (see N). But pig-eyed is "having small, dull eyes with heavy lids, appearing sunken." See OED for explanation of why pig's eye might have been felt as a compliment. In a pig's eye! as an adverse retort is recorded from 1872.
Hir shoes were laced on hir legges hye; She was a prymerole, a piggesnye, For any lord to leggen in his bedde. [Chaucer, "Miller's Tale"]
"apparel for covering the front of a person" (especially while at work, to keep clothes clean), mid-15c., faulty separation (as also in adder, auger, umpire) of a napron (c. 1300), from Old French naperon "small table-cloth," diminutive of nappe "cloth," from Latin mappa "napkin." Napron was still in use late 16c. The shift of Latin -m- to -n- was a tendency in Old French (conter from computare, printemps from primum, natte "mat, matting," from matta).
The word was extended 17c. to things which resemble or function like an apron. It has been symbolic of "a wife's business" from 1610s; apron-string tenure in old law was in reference to property held in virtue of one's wife, or during her lifetime only.
Even at his age, he ought not to be always tied to his mother's apron string. [Anne Brontë, "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall," 1848]
Middle English naddre, from Old English (West Saxon) næddre (Mercian nedre, Northumbrian nedra), "a snake; the Serpent in the Garden of Eden," from Proto-Germanic *naethro "a snake" (source also of Old Norse naðra, Middle Dutch nadre, Old High German natra, German Natter, Gothic nadrs), from PIE root *nētr- "snake" (source also of Latin natrix "water snake" (the sense is probably by folk-association with nare "to swim"); Old Irish nathir, Welsh neidr "snake, serpent").
The modern form represents a faulty separation 14c.-16c. of a nadder into an adder, for which see also apron, auger, nickname, orange, humble pie, aitchbone, umpire. Nedder is still a northern English dialect form.
Since Middle English the word has been restricted to use as the common name of the viper, the only poisonous British reptile (though not generally fatal to humans), then by extension it was applied to venomous or similar snakes elsewhere (puff-adder, etc.). Folklore connection with deafness is via Psalms lviii.1-5. The adder is said to stop up its ears to avoid hearing the snake charmer called in to drive it away.