Definition of nickelodeon in English:



North American
  • 1informal, dated A jukebox, originally one operated by the insertion of a nickel coin.

    • ‘An equivalent system is the punched-hole stack of connected cards used in a pianola, or the rotating slotted-metal disk in a nickelodeon, where the music is being played in response to the arrangement of the holes.’
    • ‘Songs well up from the subliminal nickelodeon in my head.’
    • ‘Well, it's based on this Tijuana nickelodeon machine.’
    • ‘This sounds like I'm describing the days of crystal-set radios and hand-cranked nickelodeons, I know.’
    • ‘She devotes loving attention to her orchestra, and especially to the coin-operated nickelodeon, the earliest version of a juke box.’
  • 2historical A cinema with an admission fee of one nickel.

    • ‘Before long, thousands of nickelodeons popped up in cities across the country, ushering in a new era of the motion picture as profit-making industry, entertainment for the masses and pop culture juggernaut.’
    • ‘Italian theaters and music halls, for example, largely gave way to vaudeville, nickelodeons, organized sports, and radio programming.’
    • ‘In 1918, the Chicago Motion Picture Commission heard evidence of the pernicious effect nickelodeons were having on America's youth.’
    • ‘In working class neighborhoods, children and teenagers flocked to the cheap storefront movie theaters, called nickelodeons, where even at night only a minority of the audience were adults.’
    • ‘Another sound in the nickelodeons was the murmur of immigrant voices translating aloud the titles into the languages of Europe.’
    movie theatre, movie house
    View synonyms


Early 20th century: from nickel + a shortened form of melodeon.