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 LSU’s Grant Delpit, who won the Jim Thorpe Award over McKinney as the nation’s best defensive back, shuffled between nickel, linebacker, and safety roles. Ryan Kartje, Los Angeles Times, "NFL draft: It’s safety in number of positions Alabama’s Xavier McKinney can play," 15 Apr. 2020 Behind the glass are dozens of gag items and goofy essentials — joy buzzers, squirting nickels, exploding chewing gum, floating eyeballs, fake fried eggs. Steve Rubenstein,, "This just in: Social-distance cycling OK during coronavirus pandemic," 22 Mar. 2020 The cells, developed with LG Chem, use an NMCA chemistry, which uses a combination of nickel, manganese, cobalt, and aluminum for the cathode. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "General Motors announces new battery platform, claims $100/kWh soon," 4 Mar. 2020 The products will available in finishes that include black onyx, luxe nickel, polished chrome, and luxe gold. Isabel Garcia, House Beautiful, "Transform Your Bathroom into a Spa with This Chic Tub Filler that Can Hold Your Glass of Wine," 22 Jan. 2020 Other elements commonly found in modern stainless steel knives include nickel, cobalt, manganese, silicon, niobium, tungsten, and even copper. Popular Science, "A deep dive into how knife blades are made," 15 Jan. 2020 Tesla also uses a different battery chemistry — aluminum, in addition to the standard nickel and cobalt — than other major automakers. Washington Post, "Teslas still go much farther on a single charge than their competitors. But the strategy carries risks.," 10 Jan. 2020 Also, given the proliferation of three-wide receiver sets, nickel (which uses four down linemen) has become the new base defense. John Owning, Dallas News, "4 coordinators in the NFL playoffs who the Cowboys should consider in their coaching search," 3 Jan. 2020 It was patented in 1859 by a Rochester, N.Y., gunsmith named William Billingshurst who used brass, nickel, coin silver and gold-plating in the production of his reels. Colin Moore, Outdoor Life, "12 Awesome, Old-School Reels That Changed How We Fish," 22 Nov. 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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Time Traveler for nickel

Time Traveler

The first known use of nickel was in 1755

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Statistics for nickel

Last Updated

20 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Nickel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for nickel


How to pronounce nickel (audio)

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

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