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Nicholas Name Meaning: Origin, Popularity & Nicknames

Learn about the name Nicholas including the meaning, gender, origin, popularity, and more.

Nicholas Overview

  • Meaning: Victory of the people.
  • Gender: Male, though Nicole is the feminine variation.
  • Origin: Originates from the Greek Goddess Nike, goddess of Victory.
  • Pronunciation: “Nik–oh–Luhs”
  • Popularity: Very popular.
  • Nicknames: Nic, Nick, Nicki, Nicky, Nico.
  • Variations: Nicholaus, Nicolas, Nikola, Nicolo.
  • Namesakes: Nicholas Cage, Nick Jonas, Nicholas Sparks.

What Does Nicholas Mean?

The name Nicholas comes from the Greek words Nike and Laos. In Greek, Nike means victory, while “Laos” is the word for people. The overall meaning of Nicholas is thus the victor of the people.

Nicholas has one of the richest and most colorful histories of any name. While the name’s roots stem from ancient Greek mythology, Nicholas evolved several times over the centuries.

If you’ve wondered about the history of the name Nicholas, read on to learn all about its roots from ancient times to modernity.

What Is the Origin of the Name Nicholas?

In ancient Greece, Nike was the name of the goddess of victory (1). Over time, Nike became a powerful deity who represented good luck in wars and other undertakings. The Romans maintained the worship of the Greek goddess but changed her name to Victoria. Despite the spelling change and translation, the meaning of the name remains the same.

Perhaps the most popular association with the name Nicholas is St. Nick, or Santa Claus, the father of Christmas. St. Nicholas was a 4th-century bishop from Myria, modern-day Turkey. Most historical accounts agree that St. Nick began as a rich boy from his parents’ inheritance.

Legend has it that St. Nick was generous with his money and frequently used it to help the poor (2). One of the most popular stories holds that Nicholas secretly gifted a poor man a bag of gold for each of his daughters. He would discreetly slide them down the chimney every night so that he could have dowry by which to marry off the girls.

One night, the man stayed up waiting to see who was bringing him the bags of gold. On the third night, he caught Nicholas with the gift on the chimney and immediately told everyone he knew. After the word spread of Nicholas’ kind gesture, every time someone received a secret gift it was assumed to be the work of Nicholas.

By the 18th century, several poems and stories began to emerge and revived the legend of St. Nicholas as a secret gift-giver (3). Today, St. Nick is globally famous as Santa Claus.

How Popular Is the Name Nicholas?

Since the 1900s, the name Nicholas has become increasingly popular. It ranked 200 on the list of most popular names in the year 1900 (4). The peak in popularity came in the year 1997, and by the early 2000s, Nicholas was the 17th most popular name for baby boys.

Nicholas retained its position in the top ten most popular names for several years. At present time, it’s no longer as popular but still ranks high on the list of 100 most popular names in the United States.

How Do I Pronounce Nicholas?

The pronunciation for Nicholas is Nik-oh-Luhs in English. The accent falls on the last syllable in languages like Spanish, however.

Is Nicholas a Boy or Girl Name?

Nicholas is most common as a boy’s name, though girls may use the feminine variation, Nicole. If you have a son, it’s a highly popular yet classic choice.

Variations of Nicholas

In addition, you can find variations of the name in several languages. Here are some examples:

  • Nicholaus (German)
  • Nicolas (French)
  • Nikola (Basque)
  • Nicolo (Italian)
  • Nicolás (Spanish)
  • Nikorasu (Japanese)

Nicknames for Nicholas

Several short variations exist for the name Nicholas. These include:

  • Nic
  • Nick
  • Nicki
  • Nicky
  • Nico

Similar Names to Nicholas

If you like the sound of the name Nicholas but for whatever reason aren’t completely sold on it, here are some other options to consider with a similar sound or meaning.

Middle Names for Nicholas

A common question many parents wonder when naming their child is what middle names go well with their chosen name. If Nicholas is on your radar, consider the following options as a middle name:

Sibling Names for Nicholas

If you plan to name your little one Nicholas, here are a few ideas for sibling names that pair nicely:

For a Brother:

For a Sister:

Famous People Named Nicholas

There are several famous people throughout history with the name Nicholas. Here are a few:

  • Nicholas Cage: American Actor.
  • Nick Jonas: American Singer.
  • Nicholas Sparks: American Author.
  • Nick Cannon: American comedian and actor.
  • Nikola Tesla: Serbian inventor and engineer.
  • Nicolas Sarkozy: French Politician.

Nicholas in Popular Culture

Several books, movies, and shows use the name Nicholas. Check out the pop culture references below.

  • Nicholas Nickleby: Protagonist in Charles Dickens’s novel of the same name.
  • Nick Fury: Character in Marvel Comics.
  • Nick Burkhardt: Protagonist on the tv show “Grimm.”
  • Nicholas Brody: A character on the tv show “Homeland.”
  • Old St. Nicholas: Legend of Santa Claus.

Nicholas FAQs

Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions about the name Nicholas.

Where Is the Name Nicholas the Most Popular?

The name Nicholas is popular in several countries including the United States, England, Australia, and Sweden.

What Is the Origin of the Name Nicholas?

Nicholas derives its roots from Ancient Greek, combining the words for “people” and “victory”.

Was Nikolaus a Real Person?

Nikolaus was a bishop in Myria who became a saint and martyr for his time in prison during the persecution of Christians. He was a real person whose life many people celebrate on December 6th. Nikolaus is most famous today for his kind gestures, miracles, and offering of gifts.

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