Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Nicodemused into Nothing,

E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
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.   1
        “How many Cæsars 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.)



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