Definition of clay in English:

clay

noun

  • 1A stiff, sticky fine-grained earth, typically yellow, red, or bluish-gray in color and often forming an impermeable layer in the soil. It can be molded when wet, and is dried and baked to make bricks, pottery, and ceramics.

    • ‘One slope of the mound had clay loam soil and another had sandy loam.’
    • ‘He sat in a rocking chair after dinner and smoked a long clay pipe.’
    • ‘I strongly suggested that the students carve only, fighting the temptation to model the soft clay with their fingers.’
    • ‘But the fine, white clay called kaolin was essential.’
    • ‘He informs me that the ground below Dublin consists predominantly of boulder clay.’
    • ‘The crafts will include stick making, painting, clay modelling, paper mache, collage and many more.’
    • ‘The later Babylonians adopted the same style of cuneiform writing on clay tablets.’
    • ‘Treat dirt or red clay on children's baseball uniforms in the same manner.’
    • ‘Not only is it waterproof, but it will also dry like baked polymer clays.’
    • ‘They then cut around the fish template with plastic knives, carefully removing all the excess clay.’
    • ‘Both were making clay pots, and everything seemed to be going along well.’
    • ‘The soil is a silty clay loam and located in the Finger Lakes.’
    • ‘If you're pregnant or nursing, consult your doctor before using bentonite clay.’
    • ‘Children are like wet clay - they take the shape they are moulded into.’
    • ‘I've used polymer clay with children from second grade through sixth.’
    • ‘Material culture included leather moccasins, pottery vessels with incised decoration, and clay figurines.’
    • ‘In 1851, British archaeologists discovered hundreds of clay tablets while digging in ancient Babylon.’
    • ‘Higher rates must be used in heavy clay soils than in light sandy soils.’
    • ‘Actually red clay was used to build it.’
    • ‘You can apply a layer of bentonite clay to seal the soil or lay a synthetic liner.’
    earth, terracotta, gault, catlinite, pipeclay, pipestone, argil, china clay, kaolin, adobe, ball clay, bole, pug
    slip, barbotine
    fireclay
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1technical Sediment with particles smaller than silt, typically less than 0.00016 inch (0.004 mm)
      sediment, deposit, alluvium, mud, slime, ooze, sludge
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A hardened clay surface for a tennis court.
      • ‘He also became the first player since 1979 to win three titles in a row on three different surfaces - grass, clay and hardcourt.’
      • ‘Crucially, they are potent on every surface including the indoor clay chosen for this week's final in Paris.’
      • ‘‘I am very, very surprised to be in the quarter-final because normally clay is my favourite surface,’ he said.’
      • ‘Of the surfaces on which tennis is played - clay, hard court, carpet, synthetic - grass suits above all the serve-and-volley game.’
      • ‘Then again, clay is not his surface and the battalions of Argentine baseline craftsmen are always out to get him here.’
      • ‘The fact that clay is the perfect surface on which to learn the game and yet British players are, for the most part, terrified of it, still astounds and perplexes Jones.’
      • ‘Clay is her worst surface and she is still learning the business of running and winning on a court that turns the legs to jelly and the lungs to cement.’
      • ‘I mean, the future of tennis lies in clay, and in creating new personalities, so I am not bothered if I am seen in some quarters as being a bit of a loner or a maverick.’
      • ‘Fortunately the competition will be played on a hard court surface and not clay which many of our players are not familiar with.’
    3. 1.3literary The substance of the human body.
      ‘this lifeless clay’
      • ‘All things simply revert to their former state, the body of clay unto dust, and the spirit of life unto the One who loaned it for a season.’
      • ‘Some artists, notably Rembrandt, used the genre as a vehicle for ironic commentary on the discrepancies between the ideals of classical art and the faulty human clay of which we are made.’
      • ‘Of course, he does this not through imagery alone but through turning the paint itself into a kind of turbulent human clay.’
      • ‘It was the rest of him that was made of fallible human clay.’

Phrases

  • feet of clay

    • A fundamental flaw or weakness in a person otherwise revered.

      • ‘For, most of us like our heroes with feet of clay.’
      • ‘Political leaders have feet of clay and wallets wide.’
      • ‘Good or evil, it was an empire with feet of clay that shattered noisily with the Berlin Wall in 1989.’
      • ‘When you know people's feet of clay before they become idols it is difficult to reimagine them.’
      • ‘It was Solidarity's strength that showed - to those willing to see - that the Soviet colossus had feet of clay.’
      • ‘Then I met him and I thought he was very much a man with feet of clay, which is very sad.’
      • ‘Samson was the Book of Judge's star performer and he had considerable feet of clay in keeping with this historical low point.’
      • ‘Our generation at least had had political heros who motivated us even though they were finally shown to have feet of clay.’
      • ‘But I think - I saw it described once as realising your parents have feet of clay and then as you get older realising that you do as well.’
      • ‘That much is true but ultimately I think we read Durcan not because he is ‘a God’ but because, like the rest of us, he has feet of clay.’

Origin

Old English clǣg; related to Dutch klei, also to cleave and climb.

Pronunciation:

clay

/klā/