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 There are positive signs on the horizon, such as rising copper and nickel prices that often portend an uptick in manufacturing and commerce, and economists are projecting strong GDP growth for the year. William Fink, Forbes, "What Can CFOs Plan For Moving Forward? Economic Recovery And Increased M&A Activity," 28 Apr. 2021 The green tinge of such stimulus spending is especially good news for Glencore, a big producer of the cobalt, copper and nickel needed for electric cars and the like. The Economist, "Pit stop Glencore’s new boss takes the reins at a good time for commodities," 20 Feb. 2021 Other questions need to be asked: Who will refine this copper and nickel? Star Tribune, "Readers Write: Impeachment, nuclear weapons, mining near the BWCA," 7 Feb. 2021 Investors are piling into wagers on industrial metals like copper and nickel, betting that coronavirus vaccines and stimulus programs will drive a boom in manufacturing activity as part of a global economic resurgence. WSJ, "Photos of the Week: Airbnb Stock Price Soars, U.K. Begins Rollout of Pfizer’s Covid-19 Vaccine, Hanukkah Celebrations Begin and More," 12 Dec. 2020 For over a decade a company called Twin Metals has been seeking permission to build and run an underground copper, nickel, cobalt and platinum mine there. Char Miller, The Conversation, "A proposed mine threatens Minnesota’s Boundary Waters, the most popular wilderness in the US," 5 Oct. 2020 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

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

15 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nickel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 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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