Definition of alloy in US English:



  • 1A metal made by combining two or more metallic elements, especially to give greater strength or resistance to corrosion.

    ‘an alloy of nickel, bronze, and zinc’
    as modifier ‘alloy wheels’
    ‘flat pieces of alloy’
    • ‘The luxury package also includes metallic paint, alloy wheels, a simple-to-operate cruise control, a trip computer and some very useful electric seats with memory.’
    • ‘There is an unusual combination spacer and recoil buffer made of an alloy of brass, titanium and magnesium.’
    • ‘This new material, an alloy of titanium and nickel, has an ability to return to its original shape after bending.’
    • ‘As a magnetic coating material, bridge paint gave way some time ago to electroplated and vacuum-sputtered layers of metallic alloys, made up of cobalt, platinum, chromium and boron.’
    • ‘He said that in this approach the core can be a highly magnetic material like iron or iron alloys, while the shell can be a mixed metal ferrite with tailored resistivity.’
    • ‘Nickel and nickel compounds were reviewed for listing in the ninth Report on Carcinogens, but the listing was deferred until metallic nickel and nickel alloys could undergo additional specific review.’
    • ‘Because the yield strength of aluminum alloys is frequently comparable to those of common carbon and stainless steels, aluminum is very competitive with these materials when the application is for a stocky column.’
    • ‘Since beryllium-nickel alloys resist corrosion by salt water, they are used in marine engine parts.’
    • ‘The aluminum alloy combines the properties of machinability, corrosion resistance, strength and brazeability.’
    • ‘Coins are made using various alloys of metals like nickel, copper and zinc.’
    • ‘Nickel-base alloys offer excellent corrosion resistance to a wide range of corrosive media.’
    • ‘The company's boffins have essentially developed a material substrate into which magnetic elements made of cobalt, cobalt alloys, or nickel compounds can be embedded.’
    • ‘Metal hydrides - formed when metal alloys are combined with hydrogen - can absorb and store hydrogen within their structures.’
    • ‘The hydride is a complex alloy of rare-earth elements and other metals that may be decomposed and reformed reversibly.’
    • ‘Produced from a combination of polymers and metallic alloys, it is highly corrosion resistant and almost maintenance free.’
    • ‘This discovery opens up the exciting possibility of extending this technique not only for isolating other transition and main group metals, but also for the production of alloys, by combining metal oxides as the cathode.’
    • ‘The yield strengths of wrought magnesium alloys normally vary as a function of the direction of metal flow.’
    • ‘The tests involved mixing the constituent elements of the alloy, heating and melting the mixture, and allowing it to cool and solidify.’
    • ‘A zirconium-based alloy exhibits 2.5 times the strength of some titanium alloys.’
    • ‘The Metalor Medical Division produces components based on wires and fine tubes from specialty stainless steels, unique alloys, and precious metals.’
    mixture, mix, amalgam, fusion, meld, blend, compound, combination, admixture, composite, union
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 An inferior metal mixed with a precious one.
      • ‘The quality of the boxes themselves also suffered as material became scarce - a consignment of brass was lost with the Lusitania, and as brass was needed for the direct war effort, later boxes were of inferior alloy.’
      • ‘Boldly, I walked up to the mixed alloy gate; its rough battered surface longed for happier days.’
      • ‘The true metals are actually elements, whereas the false metals are alloys - composites of elements.’
      • ‘The precious metals could be extracted by stirring the molten alloy with molten lead: gold and silver dissolved in the lead while copper did not.’


[with object]
  • 1Mix (metals) to make an alloy.

    ‘alloying tin with copper to make bronze’
    • ‘Aluminum is melted and alloyed, and liquid droplets are sprayed or dropped against a chilled surface of high thermal conductivity - for example, a copper wheel that is water cooled internally.’
    • ‘Each kimchi fridge uses up to 7 kilograms of aluminium alloyed with manganese and tin - four to five times that of the traditional fridge.’
    • ‘It is such a soft and pliable metal that it needs to be alloyed with other metals, into brass or bronze, before it can be used for a structural purpose.’
    • ‘Lead alloyed with tin, bismuth, cadmium, indium, or other elements, either alone or in combination, forms alloys with particularly low melting points.’
    • ‘Palladium is generally alloyed with other precious metals, such as gold and silver, as well as with copper.’
    • ‘They showed that the copper and zinc alloyed to make the brass were of higher purity than would have been available in the 16th century.’
    • ‘Silver is much softer than brass if it is not alloyed with copper, tin, or some other less costly metal.’
    • ‘Iron alloyed with carbon is steel and this steel can be alloyed with a variety of ferro alloys to modify its properties.’
    • ‘Gold is also alloyed with other metals to create different colors of gold.’
    • ‘Tin is structurally a weak metal, and when used in bearing applications it is alloyed with copper and antimony for increased hardness, tensile strength and fatigue resistance.’
    • ‘In the last decade of the eighteenth century jewelers perfected methods of alloying gold with various mixtures of copper, zinc, silver, or nickel to create a palette of gold colors to enrich their designs.’
    • ‘Depleted uranium alloyed with a small amount of titanium is even harder.’
    • ‘The new irons formed by alloying or by special melting and casting methods are becoming competitors to steel.’
    • ‘When properly alloyed and hardened by heat-treating, this tendency is greatly reduced.’
    • ‘With its 25 per cent of alloyed metals, K-gold also possesses optimum strength and colour versatility.’
    • ‘The metal must always be alloyed if it is to be fabricated or worked to make some useful product.’
    • ‘As is the case with steel, titanium is alloyed with other metals to increase its strength.’
    • ‘Others soon followed, industrializing it and sinking shafts to deposits of iron and other metals that could be alloyed to make tools for the Federation war machine.’
    • ‘A deep scratch exposing the alloyed metal can eventually cause measurable harm and be expensive to repair.’
    • ‘To be effective in modification, antimony must be alloyed to approximately 0.06%.’
    mix, amalgamate, fuse, meld, blend, compound, combine, unite, intermix, intermingle
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Debase (something) by adding something inferior.
      • ‘The teenage victor of strenuous battles against the most formidable and seasoned of opponents, his ferocious gifts were alloyed with a beguiling sensitivity to all things poetical.’
      • ‘Jenner's discovery was a touch-stone, to detect what proportion of selfishness alloyed the human heart.’
      • ‘Once more, he will forge a character by alloying his own inner stuff with whatever the audience members bring into the theatre.’
      • ‘The rhapsodic pleasures of her earlier work are alloyed here by a distinctive moral register, a pang of loss and imminent threat.’
      • ‘The shadow of sin clouds all of our experience in this life, and thus our joys will always be alloyed with sorrow.’


Late 16th century: from Old French aloi (noun) and French aloyer (verb), both from Old French aloier, aleier ‘combine’, from Latin alligare ‘bind’. In early use the term denoted the comparative purity of gold or silver; the sense ‘mixture of metals’ arose in the mid 17th century.