masc. proper name, from Gk. Nikholaos, lit. "victory-people," from nike "victory" + laos "people." The saint (obit. 326 C.E.) was a bishop of Myra in Lycia, patron of scholars, especially schoolboys. A popular given name in England in Middle Ages, as was the fem. form Nicolaa, corresponding to Fr. Nicole. Colloquial Old Nick "the devil" is attested from 1643, evidently from the proper name, but for no certain reason.