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 Earth’s magnetic field is powered by the circulation of iron-nickel currents within its liquid outer core., 23 July 2021 Rosette’s injury and the offseason departure of Dewayne Betts following an arrest leaves the Jaguars with question marks at two defensive secondary positions: free safety and Husky (nickel). Creg Stephenson |, al, 22 July 2021 Actually, base isn’t even the true base anymore because teams played nickel (five defensive backs) 65.7 percent of the time in 2020. Scott Patsko, cleveland, 20 July 2021 Traces of cobalt can be found also in common nickel minerals like carrollite, a sulfide of copper and cobalt, and linnaeite, a cobalt-sulfide. David Bressan, Forbes, 4 July 2021 Those killing mechanisms – set into motion 300,00 years earlier – include global warming, ultraviolet radiation exposure, hypercapnia, ocean acidification and anoxia and toxic metal release, including the presence of nickel isotopes. Julia Musto, Fox News, 3 July 2021 On the back end, nickel back Tavon Young is in his sixth season out of Temple but has only played two games the past two seasons because of neck and knee injuries. Mike Preston,, 23 June 2021 Besides cast iron, many types of stainless-steel pots and pans also work with induction—excluding anything with a high nickel or aluminum content, which will block the magnetic field. Ali Francis, Bon Appétit, 22 June 2021 Earth’s magnetic field comes from the churning of liquid nickel-iron alloys deep below our feet. Quanta Magazine, 22 June 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

26 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nickel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jul. 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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