sometimes as old men sitting on rocks wringing the water from their hair. This kelpie must not be confounded
with the nix (q.v.).
Old Nick is the Scandinavian wraith under the form and fashion of an old man. Butler says the word is derived from Nicholas Machiavel, but this can be only a poetical satire, as the term existed many years before the birth of that Florentine.
Nick Machiavel had ne'er a trickOld Nick. Grimm says the word Nick is Neken or Nikken, the evil spirit of the North. In Scandinavia there is scarcely a river without its Nikr or wraith. (See Nickar and Nicor. Anglo-Saxon nicor, a monster.)
He nicked it. Won, hit, accomplished it. A nick is a winning throw of dice. Hence Florio (p. 280) says To tye or nicke a caste of dice.
To nick the nick. To hit the exact moment. Tallies used to be called nicksticks. Hence, to make a record of anything is to nick it down, as publicans nick a score on a tally.
In the nick of time. Just at the right moment. The allusion is to tallies marked with nicks or notches. Shakespeare has, 'Tis now the prick of noon (Romeo and Juliet, ii. 4), in allusion to the custom of pricking tallies with a pin, as they do at Cambridge University still. If a man enters chapel just before the doors close, he would be just in time to get nicked or pricked, and would be at the nick or prick of time.
Nicka-Nan Night The night preceding Shrove Tuesday is so called in Cornwall, because boys play tricks and practical jokes on that night.
Nickar or Hnickar. The name assumed by Odin when he impersonates the destroying principle. (Grimm: Deutsche Mythologic.)
Nickel Silver A mixed metal of copper, zinc, and nickel, containing more nickel than what is called German silver. From its hardness it is well adapted for electroplating. (German, nickel, which also means a strumpet.)
Nicker One who nicks or hits a mark exactly. Certain night-larkers, whose game was to break windows
with halfpence, assumed this name in the early part of the eighteenth century.
His scattered pence the flying Nicker flings,Nickleby (Mrs.). An endless talker, always introducing something quite foreign to the matter in hand, and pluming herself on her penetration. (Dickens: Nicholas Nickleby.)
Nicknames National Nicknames:
Nickneven A gigantic malignant hag of Scotch superstition. Dunbar has well described this spirit in his Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedy.
Nicodemused into Nothing that is, the prospects of one's life ruined by a silly name; according to the
proverb, Give a dog a bad name and hang him. It is from Sterne's Tristram Shandy (vol. i. 19), on
the evil influence of a silly name on the mind of the bearer of it.
How many Caesars and Pompeys by mere inspiration of the names have been rendered worthy of them; and how many might have done well in the world had they not been Nicodemused into nothing.(This is, to call a man Nicodemus would be enough to sink a navy.)
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