masc. proper name, familiar form of Nicholas. As "the devil" by 1640s, but the reason for it is obscure.
"notch, groove, slit," late 15c., nyke, of unknown origin, possibly influenced by Middle French niche (see niche), or from it. Nick of time is first attested 1640s (nick of opportunity is 1610s), possibly from an old custom of recording time as it passed by making notches on a tally stick, though nick in the general sense of "critical moment" is older (1570s, Hanmer, who adds "as commonly we say") than the phrase.
1520s, "to make a notch in," from nick (n.). Sense of "to steal" is from 1869, probably from earlier slang sense of "to catch, take unawares, arrest" (1620s). The precise sense connection is unclear. Related: Nicked; nicking.
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