Why is the devil called "Old Nick"?


Although the name "Old Nick," as used to refer to the devil, dates back to the mid-17th century, there is no clear etymology or explanation for the term. General usage of euphemisms for the devil became common around that time.

Some lexicographers have suggested that "Old Nick" was perhaps a reference to the Italian politician and writer Niccolò Machiavelli, most famous for his book "The Prince," which exhorts politicians to be immoral and unscrupulous. There is no significant evidence for this etymological claim, however. Other etymologists have proposed that "Old Nick" may be a derivation based on the word "iniquity." Once again, however, there is no clear chain of development to prove this connection.

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