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.
updated on June 08, 2019