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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.)

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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More on Nickneven from Infoplease:

  • Nickneven - Nickneven A gigantic malignant hag of Scotch superstition. Dunbar has well described this spirit in ...
  • Dictionary of Phrase and Fable: N - Definitions, origins, and illustrative excerpts for words, phases, and literary allusions starting with "N"

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