Nicholas Name Meaning

Baby boy with dark hair and dark eyes looking at the camera

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If you’re looking for a classic and versatile name for a baby boy, then Nicholas might be it. The name Nicholas is of Greek origin meaning “victory of the people.” The Greek word nike means “victory” and laos means “people.” Nicholas can also be shortened in many different ways for a more relaxed take on the name.

Nicholas is often associated with Saint Nicholas, a 4th century bishop. Saint Nicholas of Myra was an early Christian bishop of Greek descent during the time of the Roman Empire. He is known as the saint of children who gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick. His legend forms the basis of the figure known as Santa Claus.

Due to the renown of Saint Nicholas, the name is popular all over the world. However, the name predates Saint Nicholas by several centuries. Athenian historian, Thucydides mentions that a certain Nikolaos was part of the Spartan delegation sent to the Persian king during the Peloponnesian War between 431 and 404 BC.

  • Origin: The name Nicholas is of Greek origin meaning “victory of the people”
  • Gender: Nicholas is most commonly used as a boy name. Its shortened form “Nicky” is often used as a nickname for Nicole, the feminine form of the name.
  • Pronunciation: nik-uh-lus 

Although baby names are separated by gender, Verywell Family believes that sex does not need to play a role in your name selection process. It's important to select a name that you feel suits your new baby the best.

How Popular is the Name Nicholas?

Nicholas has always been a popular name. Ever since 1900, the first available year of data from the Social Security Administration, the name Nicholas has appeared in the top 1,000 list of names for baby boys. At that time, it was ranked as No. 200 and has only increased in popularity since then.

The name Nicholas finally broke the top 100 when it ranked as No. 99 in 1972. It continued to increase in popularity for the most part until its peak in 1999, when it was ranked as No. 5 in baby boy names.

After that, the name Nicholas became less common. Although still considered a popular name, it is on the decline and slipped to No. 87 in 2020.

The peak of the name Nicholas in the 1990s coincides with the popularity of several pop culture figures during that time. Movie actor Nicholas Cage was at the height of his fame with a string of movies that came out in that decade, including “Snake Eyes” and “City of Angels.” 

Nicholas Sparks published his romantic novel “The Notebook,” which ended up on the New York Times bestseller list and sold 105 million copies worldwide. It was also made into a popular motion picture.

Name Variations

The following are variations of the name Nicholas:

  • Niklaas (Afrikaans)
  • Niklaus (Albanian)
  • Nikola (Basque)
  • Niko (Croation)
  • Nicolaas (Dutch)
  • Nigulas (Estonian)
  • Nicolas (French)
  • Nicholaus (German)
  • Nikulas (Icelandic)
  • Nicolo (Italian)
  • Nikorasu (Japanese)
  • Niklavs (Latvian)
  • Nikolai (Norwegian)
  • Nicolau (Portuguese)
  • Nikolasi (Tongan)
  • Nico (Spanish)

Similar Names

Similar sounding names to Nicholas:

  • Cole
  • Keith
  • Nathan
  • Nathaniel
  • Nelson
  • Nickodemus
  • Nolan

Other Greek boy names:

  • Basil
  • Caesar
  • Constantine
  • Darius
  • Julian
  • Leo 
  • Maximus
  • Orion
  • Owen
  • Theo

Other boy names that start with N:

  • Nash
  • Nasir
  • Nehemiah
  • Neil
  • Nevin
  • Newt
  • Newton
  • Nigal
  • Niles
  • Noah
  • Norbert
  • Norman

Common Nicknames

  • Collin
  • Nic
  • Nick
  • Nicky
  • Nico
  • Nik

Suggested Sibling Names

Looking for a sibling name for Nicholas? Here are some popular options:

  • Alexander
  • Benjamin
  • Calista
  • Christopher
  • Michael
  • Nathanial
  • Penelope
  • Phoene
  • Sophia
  • Thalia

Famous People Named Nicholas

The name Nicholas in its many forms has been popular throughout history. Notable people named Nicholas have included varied personas from ancient Greek philosopher Nicolaus of Damascus to modern American pop star Nick Jonas. 

Famous Nicholases:

  • Nicholas Cage, award-winning American actor and filmmaker
  • Nicholas Sparks, author of the romantic novel “The Notebook” which was made into a popular movie of the same name
  • Nick Jonas, American singer, songwriter and actor who began his career as a member of the Jonas Brothers
  • Nick Nolte, Golden Globe Award-winning American actor, producer, author, and former model 
  • Nicholas Offerman, American actor, writer, comedian, and producer who rose to fame in the NBC sitcom "Parks and Recreation"
  • Nick Cannon, American comedian, actor, rapper, and television presenter 
  • Nick Saban, American football coach who has served as the head football coach at the University of Alabama since 2007
  • Nikola Tesla, Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist 
  • Nick Lachey, American singer, television personality, and host who rose to fame as the lead singer of the multi-platinum-selling boyband 98 Degrees
  • Nicolas Sarkozy, French politician who served as President of France and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra 

Fictional Nicholases:

  • Nicholas Nickleny, fictional character from Charles Dickens’ novel by the same name
  • Nicolas Flamel, French wizard and alchemist who was referenced in the Harry Potter book series as the maker of the Philosopher’s Stone
  • Nicke Wilde, a con-artist fox character in the Disney animated film “Zootopia” who ends up helping the heroine
  • Nicholas "Nick" Stokes, fictional character from the CBS crime drama “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”
  • Nick Fury, Colonel Nicholas Joseph Fury is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics

More Baby Names

Still searching for the perfect baby name? Check out these related baby name lists for even more options:

2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Hanks P, Hardcastle K, Hodges F. A Dictionary of First Names. Oxford University Press; 2016.

  2. Social Security Administration. Popularity of name. Updated 2021.

By Vicky Yip
Vicky is a freelance writer specializing on topics relating to prenatal care, motherhood, parenting, family, and home life. She is also a Senior Contributor for HoustonMoms (City Mom Collective).