nick·​el | \ ˈni-kəl How to pronounce nickel (audio) \
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

The dahlia, which can have flowers the size of a nickel to a dinner plate, lost favor among gardeners. Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, Indianapolis Star, "The Hoosier Gardener: Dahlia revival hits home in Zionsville," 15 Aug. 2019 The lunar library on the Beresheet lander consisted of 25 layers of nickel, each only a few microns thick. Daniel Oberhaus, WIRED, "A Crashed Israeli Lunar Lander Spilled Tardigrades on the Moon," 5 Aug. 2019 The team developed a chip that's smaller than the size of a nickel and studded with sensors. Wired, "Google's New Gesture Controls Aren't Just for the Pixel," 30 July 2019 Last Sunday, a polar bear turned up in Norilsk, an industrial city in Siberia known for the production of nickel, for the first time since 1977. Michele Moses, The New Yorker, "Why the Polar Bear Is the Undisputed Image of Climate Change," 23 June 2019 Amadi has been playing at both the safety and the nickel cornerback positions during various times of training camp., "Seattle Seahawks rookie and former Oregon Duck Ugo Amadi ‘going to get a shot’ during expected NFL debut tonight," 8 Aug. 2019 Beyond the two starting spots — like most teams, the Colts spend most of their time in nickel or dime defenses these days — there will be fierce competition for playing time and roster spots after linebacker-heavy drafts the past three years. Joel A. Erickson, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: 5 position battles to watch during Colts training camp," 14 July 2019 Other commodities, such as nickel and palladium, have also climbed. Ira Iosebashvili, WSJ, "Fed Hopes, Oil Rebound Buoy Emerging Markets," 16 Jan. 2019 But that would leave the Dolphins' coaching staff perhaps trying T.J. McDonald as a nickel or dime linebacker with Fitzpatrick in the deep middle of the field. Armando Salguero, miamiherald, "Mando mock draft 2018: Picks No. 1 to Miami Dolphins selection," 26 Apr. 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

27 Aug 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 How to pronounce nickel (audio) \

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 How to pronounce nickel (audio) \

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).


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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