nick·​el | \ ˈni-kəl \
variants: or less commonly nickle

Definition of nickel

1 : a silver-white hard malleable ductile metallic element capable of a high polish and resistant to corrosion that is used chiefly in alloys and as a catalyst — see Chemical Elements Table
2a(1) : the U.S. 5-cent piece regularly containing 25 percent nickel and 75 percent copper
(2) : the Canadian 5-cent piece
b : five cents
3 slang : a packet containing five dollars worth of an illicit drug (such as marijuana)

called also nickel bag

4 : a pass defense in football that employs five defensive backs

Examples of nickel in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Fitzpatrick gained substantial experience as a traditional safety, slot corner and nickel linebacker, working extensively almost everywhere with the exception of matching up with receivers on the outside. Michael Middlehurst-schwartz, USA TODAY, "NFL draft 2018 safety rankings: Derwin James, Minkah Fitzpatrick shape board," 16 Apr. 2018 The Bears also tendered wide receiver Josh Bellamy and nickel cornerback Bryce Callahan at the original-round level. Brad Biggs,, "Bears restricted free agent WR Cameron Meredith visits Colts and is expected to meet with another team," 20 Mar. 2018 Another rookie last season, Xavier Woods, saw time at nickel cornerback. Drew Davison, star-telegram, "Cowboys' Anthony Brown on Byron Jones possible move to CB: 'I love competition' | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 5 Mar. 2018 Compared to the bedrock in the area, the grains contain extra iron, nickel, and other elements associated with iron meteorites. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Huge, previously unknown impact crater found beneath Greenland’s ice," 18 Nov. 2018 Its mining operations account for around 10% of the world’s nickel, forming a vital part of a supply chain that feeds auto makers and other industries. Rhiannon Hoyle, WSJ, "New Caledonians Vote No on Frexit, Will Maintain French Connection," 4 Nov. 2018 While more expensive jewelry might be made of silver, gold, or platinum, cheaper alternatives can be formed from metals like nickel, which can cause allergic reactions, lead, or cadmium. Eliza Brooke, Vox, "Why cadmium, a metal that can cause kidney and bone damage, is still used in jewelry," 12 Oct. 2018 Others are well-known allergens, such as nickel, medications like antihistamines, and airborne matter like pollen. Korin Miller, SELF, "Here’s Why Your Same Old Eye Makeup Is Suddenly Causing Irritation," 5 Oct. 2018 The researchers found that more than 98 percent of the meteorite consists of kamacite, an alloy of iron and 5 to 10 percent nickel, that's formed in space and is found only in meteorites, which are rocks that fall from space to Earth's surface. Kimberly Hickok, Fox News, "Mineral never seen on Earth found inside Russian meteorite," 2 Oct. 2018

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

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First Known Use of nickel

1755, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for nickel

probably from Swedish nickel, from German Kupfernickel niccolite (mineral containing nickel arsenide), probably from Kupfer copper + Nickel goblin; from the deceptive copper color of niccolite

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Statistics for nickel

Last Updated

15 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for nickel

The first known use of nickel was in 1755

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More Definitions for nickel



English Language Learners Definition of nickel

: a hard silver-white metal

: a U.S. or Canadian coin that is worth five cents


nick·​el | \ ˈni-kəl \

Kids Definition of nickel

1 : a hard silvery white metallic chemical element that can be highly polished, resists weathering, and is used in alloys
2 : a United States coin worth five cents


nick·​el | \ ˈnik-əl \

Medical Definition of nickel

: a silver-white hard malleable ductile metallic element capable of a high polish and resistant to corrosion that is used chiefly in alloys and as a catalyst symbol Ni — see Chemical Elements Table

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More from Merriam-Webster on nickel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with nickel

Spanish Central: Translation of nickel

Nglish: Translation of nickel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of nickel for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about nickel

Comments on nickel

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


a complex dispute or argument

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