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

Seattle mostly just stayed in a nickel defense and had Bobby Wagner and Barkevious Mingo as the two linebackers once Wright departed on Sunday, and the Seahawks could again go with that alignment. Bob Condotta, The Seattle Times, "Seahawks Tuesday injury report: K.J. Wright again out but Chris Carson and D.J. Fluker are full go," 13 Nov. 2018 No one on the roster has as much speed as second-round pick Donte Jackson, the former LSU sprinter who plays both nickel and outside corner. Joseph Person, charlotteobserver, "Minicamp is over, but 4 big Panthers position battles must be settled in Spartanburg," 15 June 2018 Hidden Need: Inside linebacker Fangio plays nickel, almost never dime. Andy Benoit,, "NFL Draft Needs: All 32 Teams," 25 Apr. 2018 The Bengals spend the majority of plays in the nickel defense – not the old 4-3 base. Paul Dehner Jr.,, "Cincinnati Bengals 2018 NFL Draft strategy: Should it be the next Geno or next Peko?," 20 Apr. 2018 The European Union’s Nickel Directive ensures that jewelry and other worn products release minimal amounts of nickel onto your skin—0.5 micrograms per cm per week to be exact. Jill Kiedaisch, Popular Mechanics, "Tyvek Time? These Watches Are Made of Recycled Home Wrap," 13 Nov. 2018 Madagascar is one of the world’s poorest nations despite having reserves of nickel, cobalt, gold, uranium and other minerals. Fox News, "US diplomat in Madagascar found dead in home, suspect in custody," 26 Sep. 2018 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

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

12 Feb 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

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