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 Buff’s quick, noninvasive exam revealed a nickel-sized growth on his left lung that was later diagnosed as stage 1 lung cancer and was cured by surgery alone. Melba Newsome, Scientific American, 12 Nov. 2021 The sophomore entered the offseason in line to take over as the Tigers’ starting nickel following the departure of Christian Tutt. Tom Green |, al, 9 Nov. 2021 But the Ducks coaches decided to shift starting safety Jevon Holland, now with the Miami Dolphins, to nickel and move McKinley to safety. oregonlive, 8 Sep. 2021 True freshman Jeff Bassa continues to be a breakout performer at weak-side linebacker for the Ducks after moving from nickel due to injuries at inside linebacker. oregonlive, 7 Nov. 2021 Anglo American, a British mining giant, has staked out swaths of an island believed to have lucrative deposits of nickel, essential for most electric car batteries. New York Times, 1 Oct. 2021 Totten Mine is part of the company’s century-long presence in Sudbury that includes five mines, a mill, a smelter and a refinery that produce nearly 65,000 metric tons of nickel a year. Téa Kvetenadze, Forbes, 27 Sep. 2021 Yet the state has chosen to nickel and dime working families who just want to take a swim or sit in a shady spot., 23 Sep. 2021 The move from nickel to safety was done in large part to help the gap left by safety Richie Grant, who heard his name called in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons this past April. Jason Beede,, 27 Aug. 2021

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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Last Updated

23 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nickel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on nickel

Nglish: Translation of nickel for Spanish Speakers

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


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