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

Jackson will be tried at both nickel corner and on the outside, where Carolina actually needs him worse due to recently trading starter Daryl Worley. Scott Fowler, charlotteobserver, "Did Panthers remake themselves in 2 picks of NFL draft? At minimum, it was a fast start | Charlotte Observer," 27 Apr. 2018 Consensus: Has the look of a true nickel corner thanks to his plus instincts and consistent physicality in press and against the run. Terez A. Paylor, kansascity, "Draft preview: With Marcus Peters gone, Chiefs need more help at corner | The Kansas City Star," 23 Apr. 2018 Pepsi already had set itself apart by offering 12 ounces for a nickel, while most rivals sold 6-ounce bottles for the same price. James R. Hagerty, WSJ, "Allen McKellar Wrote a Hopeful Essay in Hard Times and Launched a Career at Pepsi," 22 June 2018 As a rookie, Poole came in on third downs as a nickel for the first four games. Chapel Fowler, charlotteobserver, "Former Panther Tyrone Poole says you're like a spider. That can help you hang tough.," 30 May 2018 McCain, who appears to be competing with Tony Lippett and Cordrea Tankersley for a starting job, sees himself as more than a nickel. Adam H. Beasley, miamiherald, "McCain on his shot at starting, contract talk and his now-squashed feud with Amendola," 29 May 2018 Rashan Gary can't make a nickel off his name right now. Nick Baumgardner, Detroit Free Press, "It's time: Allow college athletes to make money off their names," 16 May 2018 By the time the smoke has cleared a few years later, these lawyers are already into the insurer for a few hundred grand before the plaintiff has even seen a nickel. Jon Wertheim,, "Mailbag: 10 Storylines to Follow at Indian Wells 2018," 7 Mar. 2018 New Caledonia has one-quarter of the world’s known deposits of nickel, which is used to make stainless steel. A. Odysseus Patrick, Washington Post, "A bit of France in the South Pacific votes this year on independence," 1 June 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

8 Oct 2018

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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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 state of commotion or excitement

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