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

Lichtenbaum bought a bag of peanuts for a nickel and entered the big top with his sister. Daniela Altimari,, "On circus fire anniversary, poignant reflections on 168 lives lost," 7 July 2019 Brief looks during the off-season program suggest that Davis/Jewell are Fangio’s choice if the Broncos play nickel. Ryan O'halloran, The Denver Post, "Broncos Mailbag: Can former second-round pick DeMarcus Walker salvage his career?," 2 July 2019 Weatherford International PLC, a bankrupt oil-field services provider whose shares are trading at around a nickel a share, plans a return to the stock market after its chapter 11 proceedings end. Becky Yerak, WSJ, "Weatherford Looking at Stock Listing After Bankruptcy," 2 July 2019 Nornickel, which rivals Vale SA as the top nickel producer, is also working on a digital platform for transactions within the company between its own divisions. Yuliya Fedorinova,, "Russia's Richest Man Plans Crypto Tokens Backed by Palladium," 27 Mar. 2019 But below the surface and beyond lies richness of another sort, an estimated four billion tons of copper and nickel ore — believed to be one of the world’s largest undeveloped mineral deposits. Steve Eder, New York Times, "A Plan to Mine the Minnesota Wilderness Hit a Dead End. Then Trump Became President.," 25 June 2019 In 2016, industrial waste from the nickel factory caused the city’s Daldykan River to run red. Michele Moses, The New Yorker, "Why the Polar Bear Is the Undisputed Image of Climate Change," 23 June 2019 O’Neill tracked him down at a family member’s house, offered a nickel bag of pot as a peace offering, and was subjected to a tirade the second Tate’s name was invoked. Seija Rankin,, "Everything you need to know about the explosive new Manson murders exposé Chaos," 16 June 2019 The Broncos wrapped up mandatory mini-camp with Cravens featured almost exclusively at nickel safety and as the second-team starter. Kyle Fredrickson, The Denver Post, "Broncos safety Su’a Cravens found a mentor in Steve Atwater through difficult Denver debut," 8 June 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about nickel

Statistics for nickel

Last Updated

16 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for nickel

The first known use of nickel was in 1755

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


an act or instance of editing or removing

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!