One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
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.
earth, terracotta, gault, catlinite, pipeclay, pipestone, argil, china clay, kaolin, adobe, ball clay, bole, pugView synonyms
- ‘Material culture included leather moccasins, pottery vessels with incised decoration, and clay figurines.’
- ‘One slope of the mound had clay loam soil and another had sandy loam.’
- ‘I strongly suggested that the students carve only, fighting the temptation to model the soft clay with their fingers.’
- ‘The later Babylonians adopted the same style of cuneiform writing on clay tablets.’
- ‘You can apply a layer of bentonite clay to seal the soil or lay a synthetic liner.’
- ‘He informs me that the ground below Dublin consists predominantly of boulder clay.’
- ‘They then cut around the fish template with plastic knives, carefully removing all the excess clay.’
- ‘Actually red clay was used to build it.’
- ‘I've used polymer clay with children from second grade through sixth.’
- ‘Treat dirt or red clay on children's baseball uniforms in the same manner.’
- ‘Children are like wet clay - they take the shape they are moulded into.’
- ‘The crafts will include stick making, painting, clay modelling, paper mache, collage and many more.’
- ‘Not only is it waterproof, but it will also dry like baked polymer clays.’
- ‘But the fine, white clay called kaolin was essential.’
- ‘He sat in a rocking chair after dinner and smoked a long clay pipe.’
- ‘Higher rates must be used in heavy clay soils than in light sandy soils.’
- ‘If you're pregnant or nursing, consult your doctor before using bentonite clay.’
- ‘Both were making clay pots, and everything seemed to be going along well.’
- ‘In 1851, British archaeologists discovered hundreds of clay tablets while digging in ancient Babylon.’
- ‘The soil is a silty clay loam and located in the Finger Lakes.’
- 1.1technical Sediment with particles smaller than silt, typically less than 0.00016 inch (0.004 mm)
- 1.2 A hardened clay surface for a tennis court.
- ‘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.’
- ‘Fortunately the competition will be played on a hard court surface and not clay which many of our players are not familiar with.’
- ‘He also became the first player since 1979 to win three titles in a row on three different surfaces - grass, clay and hardcourt.’
- ‘‘I am very, very surprised to be in the quarter-final because normally clay is my favourite surface,’ he said.’
- ‘Then again, clay is not his surface and the battalions of Argentine baseline craftsmen are always out to get him here.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘Crucially, they are potent on every surface including the indoor clay chosen for this week's final in Paris.’
- ‘Of the surfaces on which tennis is played - clay, hard court, carpet, synthetic - grass suits above all the serve-and-volley game.’
- 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.’
- ‘It was the rest of him that was made of fallible human clay.’
- ‘Of course, he does this not through imagery alone but through turning the paint itself into a kind of turbulent human clay.’
Old English clǣg, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch klei, also to cleave and climb.
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