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

All of a sudden, an on-the-field de facto surveillance society was instantly created when Zebra techies activated nickel-sized Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) chips that were fastened inside players' shoulder pads. David Kravets, Ars Technica, "How the NFL—not the NSA—is impacting data gathering well beyond the gridiron," 1 Sep. 2019 The ratio of manganese to nickel, for example, averages less than 40 to 1. Los Angeles Times, "The Kona coffee you buy from Costco and Walmart? It might be fake," 15 Sep. 2019 Safety Jayron Kearse filled in for the second half at nickel back. Chris Tomasson, Twin Cities, "Center Brett Jones expected to re-sign with Vikings," 9 Sep. 2019 Jones is expected to take snaps at nickel back while retaining his role as punt returner. Baltimore Sun Staff,, "Ravens defense doesn’t change plans with Dolphins’ roster shuffling; team undecided on kick returner," 5 Sep. 2019 K’Waun Williams should be back from a knee injury to resume his role at nickel back, otherwise Emmanuel Moseley, D.J. Reed and Antone Exum can fill in there. Cam Inman, The Mercury News, "Top things we’re learning at 49ers HQ on Thursday," 5 Sep. 2019 That implies Michigan has confidence in his coverage abilities at nickel — so much so that the Wolverines could even move Hawkins down to the slot and insert another safety behind him in certain situations. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football's defense is counting on Brad Hawkins at safety," 30 Aug. 2019 Phillips, a fifth-round round pick last year out of Western Kentucky, played in nine games last year and started one at nickel back. John Fay,, "Cincinnati Bengals fall to Indianapolis Colts 13-6 in final preseason game," 29 Aug. 2019 Rookie Josh Watson began practice with the first-team defense and was replaced by rookie Justin Hollins in nickel. Ryan O'halloran, The Denver Post, "Broncos safety Justin Simmons adds to camp interception total," 16 Aug. 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.

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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 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

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