nick·​el | \ˈni-kəl \
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

On a day lost to history, some fortuitous humans found a glistening meteorite, mostly iron and nickel, that had barreled through the atmosphere and crashed into the ground. Jonathan Schifman, Popular Mechanics, "The Entire History of Steel," 9 July 2018 The coin will also be available in silver and nickel, and features a dove and olive branch motif, as well as other symbolic items. Natasha Bach, Fortune, "'The Burger for World Peace:' How Singapore Businesses Are Capitalizing on the Trump-Kim Summit," 11 June 2018 The fare is $1 per ride plus a dime and nickel for every minute in transit. Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, "Fly On, My Sleek Electric Bird," 30 May 2018 Norilsk Nickel operates some of the richest mines in palladium, platinum, and nickel., "Trump Trade Fears Take Gold and Palladium Futures on a Wild Ride," 16 Apr. 2018 What: Handmade one-of-a-kind jewelry such as bracelets, wrap cuffs, pendants and earrings using beads, leather, olive wood from Israel, semi-precious stones from around the world, nickel-free copper and Sari Silk tassel from India. Vanessa Infanzon, charlotteobserver, "CLT Made: MADDJewels," 13 Apr. 2018 Apply a nickel-sized amount of the cream to your hands, work it through each section of your hair, and then brush it through with a flat brush. Melanie Yates, Woman's Day, "This Styling Cream Gives You A Perfect Blowout Look In Just Under A Minute," 20 Aug. 2015 Jackson will be tried at both nickel corner and on the outside, where Carolina actually needs him worse due to recently trading starter Daryl Worley. Scott Fowler, charlotteobserver, "Did Panthers remake themselves in 2 picks of NFL draft? At minimum, it was a fast start | Charlotte Observer," 27 Apr. 2018 Consensus: Has the look of a true nickel corner thanks to his plus instincts and consistent physicality in press and against the run. Terez A. Paylor, kansascity, "Draft preview: With Marcus Peters gone, Chiefs need more help at corner | The Kansas City Star," 23 Apr. 2018

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

5 Nov 2018

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 \

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 \

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

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).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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!