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 Every nickel’s worth of cash that comes into the MTA, and every MetroCard that goes out, passes through this building and thus under Putre’s eye. Christopher Bonanos, Curbed, "The Man in the MTA’s Money Room," 29 Apr. 2021 Toxic elements like lead and mercury were released by burning fuel, organic compounds from fuel and oil spills, and metals like lithium, aluminum, and nickel come from vehicles and other machinery. David Bressan, Forbes, "How World War II May Enter The Fossil Record," 27 Apr. 2021 At 5-9 ½, 180 pounds and running a 4.45-second 40-yard dash, Bootle could be a late-round snag helping an NFL team in nickel/dime packages or on special teams. David Furones,, "Local football stars who could be drafted this week | Photos," 27 Apr. 2021 The nickel tour at Hoppy Dude Brews won’t take long. Marc Bona, cleveland, "Hoppy Dude Brews set to open in May, tips the cap to the military and staying local," 26 Apr. 2021 Thorne showed the ability to scramble under pressure a few times, though on one rollout his pass got picked off by nickel back Michael Dowell. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan State football QB battle between Payton Thorne, Anthony Russo simmers into summer," 25 Apr. 2021 Starting nickel Jamal Hill began his career on special teams and takes pride in being on kickoff return defense. James Crepea | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "Oregon Ducks upgrading special teams personnel this spring," 24 Apr. 2021 It is made from carbon steel and plated with a nickel chrome. Chris Hachey, BGR, "Best Sharpening Rod for Knives," 22 Apr. 2021 Patrick Rosette, the top candidate at Husky (nickel) safety, was injured again in the spring and has been unable to stay on the field much at all in two years at South Alabama. Creg Stephenson |, al, "5 post-spring observations on South Alabama football," 20 Apr. 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

3 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nickel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 May. 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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