An Ekename?

What is a nick? My son asked me today this odd question: "What is a nick?" His tiny eyes saw my confusion, so he finished: "Like 'nickname.'" The result was a fun lesson in, you guessed it, the laziness of humanity (Isaac will tell you this is a primary concept that I teach). What happened? Well, it started long ago (c. 1300). Originally a “nickname” was an “ekename.” “Eke” means “additional.”(1) How did laziness change it? Around 1550, the phrase “an eke name” had been thoroughly slurred in speech to the point of a kind of phrasal metathesis. A wonderful example of metathesis (2) can be seen in the archaic word “aks” changing to our modern word “ask” (ie., when my dad “aks me a question,” h

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© 2013  Justin Singleton 

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