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noun (1)

clink·​er ˈkliŋ-kər How to pronounce clinker (audio)
plural clinkers
British : something first-rate
: a wrong note
: a serious mistake or error : boner
: an utter failure : flop
: something of poor quality


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noun (2)

clin·​ker ˈkliŋ-kər How to pronounce clinker (audio)
plural clinkers
or clinker brick plural clinker bricks : a brick that has been burned in the kiln to the point of becoming darkened or deformed
… the shiny, burnt, misshapen bricks, known as clinkers, which are the unloved and usually unused outer layer of the firing process. When banged together, they make a clinking sound.Stephen Best
… "clinkers," bricks that were discarded because they became deformed or discolored after getting too close to the heat in the kiln.Katy Tomasulo
"Over-baked and distorted," he [an unidentified Melbourne, Australia brick recycler] explained. Even so, these days retrieved clinker bricks can sell for over $1 each!Jenny Brown
Its corner-wrapping porch is complemented by generous eaves and abundant use of clinker brick—dense, misshapen bricks created by exposure to high temperatures …Sarah Hilbert
… a clinker-brick two-story orphanage …Anthony Doerr
: stony matter fused together
The manufacturing of cement involves the mixing of limestone, silica, iron oxide, and alumina. This mixture is heated by coal to very high temperatures … , transforming the mixture into a pebble-like substance called clinker, which is then mixed with gypsum and ground to a fine powder to make cement.Paul Robbins
also : a piece of clinker
When I was a kid in Parma, one of the chores assigned to me and my brothers was the removing of the "clinkers" from the old coal furnace in the basement of our house, as well as the one in the church next door. Loren Yadon

Examples of clinker in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Last year, the two companies said their trial project in Spain produced clinker without fossil fuels. Yusuf Khan, WSJ, 24 Aug. 2023 Typically, clinker is made by heating limestone and clay in a rotating kiln to temperatures above 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit. Yusuf Khan, WSJ, 24 Aug. 2023 For every ton of clinker produced, about 1,300 pounds of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. David Abel,, 14 June 2023 Hot clinker is run across grates where air blowers cool it to about 100 degrees C. Mark Fischetti, Scientific American, 13 Jan. 2023 Roller mills or ball mills grind the clinker and gypsum into a fine gray powder known as Portland cement. Mark Fischetti, Scientific American, 13 Jan. 2023 That process creates something called clinker, a binding agent, by stripping carbon dioxide from the limestone. David Abel,, 14 June 2023 White elm is scarce now and red elm leaves behind clinkers. Matthew Gavin Frank, Harper's Magazine, 3 May 2023 To make cement, limestone and other clay-like materials are heated in a massive kiln and turned into a lumpy substance known as clinker. Benjamin Storrow, Scientific American, 19 Apr. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'clinker.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun (1)

clink entry 1

Noun (2)

alteration of earlier klincard a hard yellowish Dutch brick

First Known Use

Noun (1)

1836, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

1659, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of clinker was in 1659

Dictionary Entries Near clinker

Cite this Entry

“Clinker.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a mass of stony matter fused together (as in a furnace) : slag
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