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 Last year, Chinese firm Tsignchan signed a $2 billion deal with the Zimbabwean Ministry of Mines to extract chrome, iron ore, nickel and coal, vital resources for China. Nyasha Chingono, CNN, "Shooting of Zimbabwe workers by Chinese mine owner shows 'systemic' abuse, watchdog says," 27 June 2020 The space station's four huge solar wings feed power into eight electrical channels, originally relying on 48 nickel-hydrogen batteries, six per power channel, to supply electricity when the station is not in direct sunlight. William Harwood, CBS News, "Astronauts gear up for Friday spacewalk amid planning for Crew Dragon return," 24 June 2020 The resulting showers could result in brief periods of heavy rain and a chance nickel-sized hail for the Cascades through Friday morning. oregonlive, "Portland metro Friday weather: showers likely with thunderstorms possible in the Cascades," 12 June 2020 These leftovers are thick with sulfur, heavy metals such as vanadium and nickel, and a suite of other contaminants that, once burned in an engine, combust into fine, lung-damaging particles. Alejandra Borunda, National Geographic, "As oil prices crashed, tankers idled off California—spewing pollution for weeks," 12 June 2020 Nornickel is the world's leading producer of nickel and palladium producer. USA Today, "Russia declares state of emergency over Arctic Circle oil spill caused by melting permafrost," 5 June 2020 This was the first spill for Norilsk Nickel, the world's leading nickel and palladium producer. Isabelle Khurshudyan, Anchorage Daily News, "Oil spill in Russian Arctic prompts Putin to declare emergency and slam slow response," 4 June 2020 Norilsk Nickel is the world’s largest producer of platinum and nickel, and the company is no stranger to environmental disasters. Ivan Nechepurenko,, "Russia declares emergency after Arctic oil spill," 4 June 2020 Secondary coach Kerry Coombs and special teams coordinator Matt Barnes have also spoken to Branch about him sometimes playing boundary safety -- to the short side of the field -- and being in some nickel packages. Cameron Fields, cleveland, "Ohio State football is pursuing 4-star Bishop Gorman safety Zion Branch: Buckeyes Recruiting Roundup," 4 June 2020

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

1 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Nickel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Jul. 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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