E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Nicodemused into Nothing,
that is, the prospects of ones life ruined by a silly name; according to the proverb, Give a dog a bad name and hang him. It is from Sternes Tristram Shandy (vol. i. 19), on the evil influence of a silly name on the mind of the bearer of it.
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.)