noun, often attributive \ˈklā\

: a heavy, sticky material from the earth that is made into different shapes and that becomes hard when it is baked or dried

Full Definition of CLAY

a :  an earthy material that is plastic when moist but hard when fired, that is composed mainly of fine particles of hydrous aluminum silicates and other minerals, and that is used for brick, tile, and pottery; specifically :  soil composed chiefly of this material having particles less than a specified size
b :  earth, mud
a :  a substance that resembles clay in plasticity and is used for modeling
b :  the human body as distinguished from the spirit
c :  fundamental nature or character <the common clay>
clay·ey \ˈklā-ē\ adjective
clay·ish \ˈklā-ish\ adjective
clay·like \-ˌlīk\ adjective

Examples of CLAY

  1. <had the feeling that the natives were of a different clay than us and that neither side would ever understand the other>

Origin of CLAY

Middle English, from Old English clǣg; akin to Old High German klīwa bran, Latin gluten glue, Middle Greek glia
First Known Use: before 12th century


biographical name \ˈklā\

Definition of CLAY

Henry 1777–1852 Am. statesman & orator


biographical name

Definition of CLAY

Lucius Du Bi*gnon \d-ˈbin-yən\ 1897–1978 Am. gen.


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Soil particles with diameters less than 0.005 mm; also a material composed essentially of clay particles (see clay mineral). In soils, clays provide the environment for almost all plant growth. The use of clay in pottery making predates recorded human history. As building materials, clay bricks (baked and as adobe) have been used in construction since earliest times. Kaolin, or china clay, is required for the finer grades of ceramic materials; used for paper coating and filler, it gives the paper a gloss, permitting high-quality reproduction, and increases paper opacity. Clay materials have many uses in engineering; earth dams are made impermeable to water by a core of clay, and water loss in canals may be reduced by lining the bottom with clay (called puddling). The essential raw materials of portland cement include clays.


Next Word in the Dictionary: claybank
Previous Word in the Dictionary: claxon
All Words Near: clay

Seen & Heard

What made you want to look up clay? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).