noun (1)
clink·​er | \ ˈkliŋ-kər How to pronounce clinker (audio) \
plural clinkers

Definition of clinker

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 British : something first-rate
2a : a wrong note
b : a serious mistake or error : boner
c : an utter failure : flop
d : something of poor quality


noun (2)
clin·​ker | \ ˈkliŋ-kər How to pronounce clinker (audio) \
plural clinkers

Definition of clinker (Entry 2 of 2)

1 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
2 : 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

First Known Use of clinker

Noun (1)

1836, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

1659, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for clinker

Noun (1)

clink entry 1

Noun (2)

alteration of earlier klincard a hard yellowish Dutch brick

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Time Traveler for clinker

Time Traveler

The first known use of clinker was in 1659

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Dictionary Entries Near clinker



clinker beech

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Cite this Entry

“Clinker.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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