clay

noun, often attributive
\ˈklā \

Definition of clay 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1a : 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

2a : 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

biographical name (1)
\ˈklā \

Definition of Clay (Entry 2 of 3)

Henry 1777–1852 American statesman and orator

Clay

biographical name (2)

Definition of Clay (Entry 3 of 3)

Lucius Du Bi*gnon \du̇-ˈbin-yən \ 1897–1978 American general

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from clay

Noun

clayey \ˈklā-ē \ adjective
clayish \ˈklā-ish \ adjective
claylike \-ˌlīk \ adjective

Examples of clay in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

When the paddy fields dry, the clay soil is soft and spongy, a comfortable surface that eliminates end-of- day pain and fatigue. Rene Wisely, Detroit Free Press, "Kybun Joya Shoes, sports collectibles, sushi, whiskey fill downtowns," 9 July 2018 Here are tips from Washington Post gardening columnist Adrian Higgins: Herbs like full sun, free-draining soil and an open and airy location, as opposed to shade, heavy clay soil and thick wood mulches. Becky Krystal, sacbee, "As you plot to grow herbs, aim for a balance of wants, needs," 29 June 2018 The red clay soil of Alabama, a form of ultisol, is produced by intense weathering, season after season with no new soil. Danielle Jackson, Longreads, "Alabama’s History Haunts, But It Also Instructs," 27 June 2018 Here are tips from Washington Post gardening columnist Adrian Higgins: — Herbs like full sun, free-draining soil and an open and airy location, as opposed to shade, heavy clay soil and thick wood mulches. Becky Krystal, The Seattle Times, "How to pick the most useful herbs to plant in your back yard," 26 June 2018 But keep in mind, there are natives to address just about any yard issues, including heavy clay soil, shoreline protection and nibbling deer. Jennifer Rude Klett, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Micro prairies: No yard is too small to go with earth-friendly native plants," 25 May 2018 Archeologists have found oysters shells, bones, stone tools and fragments of clay pots, many of which are on display at the Palmetto Bluff History Center. Smithsonian, "Learn more about the Conservancy at Palmetto Bluff," 1 Apr. 2018 As the rain sets in, native roots push and acclimate to hard, unforgiving local clay soil. Sunset, "10 Fall Gardening Chores to Prep for Winter," 22 Jan. 2018 When backfilling, use the native soil — even clay soil — that came out of the planting hole. Ellen Nibali, baltimoresun.com, "Garden Q&A: Be wary of the 'bathtub effect'," 12 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'clay.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of clay

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for clay

Noun

Middle English, from Old English clǣg; akin to Old High German klīwa bran, Latin gluten glue, Middle Greek glia

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about clay

Dictionary Entries near clay

claw-tailed

claw tool

claxon

clay

Clay

claybank

clayboard

Statistics for clay

Last Updated

14 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for clay

The first known use of clay was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for clay

clay

noun

English Language Learners Definition of clay

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

clay

noun
\ˈklā \

Kids Definition of clay

1 : an earthy material that is sticky and easily molded when wet and hard when baked

2 : a substance like clay that is used for modeling

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on clay

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

WORD OF THE DAY

required by fashion, etiquette, or custom

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!