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Etymology 1[edit]

From German Nixe, feminine of Nix, from Middle High German nickes, from Old High German nihhus (water-elf, crocodile), from Proto-Germanic *nikwus, *nikwis, perhaps from Proto-Indo-European *neygʷ- (to wash).

Cognate with Old English nicor (water-elf, hippopotamus, walrus), English nicker.

Alternative forms[edit]


nixie (plural nixies)

  1. A female nix, a water-spirit.
    • 1916, Rex Beach, Rainbow's End, published 2008, page 1:
      The place seems to have been fashioned as a dwelling for dryads and hamadryads, for nixies and pixies, and all the fabled spirits of forest and stream.
    • 1922 February, James Joyce, Ulysses, Paris: Shakespeare and Company, [], →OCLC:
      Bare from her garters up her flesh appears under the sapphire a nixie’s green.
    • 2011, Katalin Koda, Fire of the Goddess, page 83:
      In medieval times, the image of the double fish tailed siren was called a nixie or evil water spirit. Yet, the nixies were more likely daughters of the primordial goddess named Nyx or mother night, who hovered over ancient waters, rather than evil spirits.

Etymology 2[edit]

From nix +‎ -ie.


nixie (plural nixies)

  1. A piece of mail returned as undeliverable.
    • 1994 March 3, Postal Bulletin, United States Postal Service, page 4:
      Mailers who are registered participants in the Postal Service's Address Change Service (ACS) system expect to receive their address corrections and nixie notifications by electronic messages; [] .
    • 2003, Jenkins Group, The Insiders Guide to Large Quantity Book Sales, page 7:
      If you get a response of less than one percent or excessive “nixies” (wrong addresses), rework your copy or get a new list.
    • 2008, Susan K. Jones, Business-to-Business Internet Marketing, 5th edition, page 15:
      Another good reason to use first-class mail is the fact that it will often be forwarded or, if need be, returned to the sender if the address is bad. (In the industry, this is called a “nixie.”) It is important to keep an eye on the nixie rate if you are using first-class mail.

See also[edit]