Definition of nickel in US English:



  • 1A silvery-white metal, the chemical element of atomic number 28.

    Nickel occurs naturally in various minerals, and the earth's core is believed to consist largely of metallic iron and nickel. The chief use of nickel is in alloys, especially with iron, to which it imparts strength and resistance to corrosion, and with copper for coinage

    • ‘As well as cadmium in batteries, handsets can contain plastics, ceramics, copper, flame retardants, nickel, zinc, silver and other metals.’
    • ‘When waste oils are burned in incinerators, toxic metals such as nickel, vanadium and cadmium get ensnared in the particles given off into the atmosphere.’
    • ‘Experts disagree about the possible extent to which nickel in foods can cause an allergic reaction.’
    • ‘I'm not aware of any organic molecule that's green without the help of a metal like nickel or copper.’
    • ‘Other trace elements such as iodine, uranium, nickel, lead, iron, and lithium also exist in the Dead Sea water.’
    • ‘The QNI Yabulu refinery is part of BHP-Billiton Stainless Steels and processes nickel and cobalt.’
    • ‘The most common of the special elements added to cast iron are nickel, chromium, copper and molybdenum.’
    • ‘Nearby, there could be drums containing potassium, nickel, barium or a little bit of manganese leaching into the pretty stream.’
    • ‘Cobalt, nickel and manganese are metals with iron-like properties.’
    • ‘Mineral deposits include oil and natural gas, gold, uranium, bauxite, nickel, and cobalt.’
    • ‘Metals like silver, nickel and gold are a perfect medium for coinage because of their durability and the value accorded by their relative rarity.’
    • ‘The most common alloying elements are aluminum, nickel, silicon, tin, and zinc.’
    • ‘If there was a shortage of gold and silver, then cheaper nickel or copper were used in the coins.’
    • ‘Incineration of waste fuel oils without abatement leads to a massive increase in the emissions of heavy metals, especially nickel and vanadium.’
    • ‘Other plated metals include nickel, copper, and gold.’
    • ‘Your continuing problem leads me to believe you may be allergic to nickel, which may be added to gold and silver jewelry.’
    • ‘Coins are made using various alloys of metals like nickel, copper and zinc.’
    • ‘Base metals such as nickel and copper are facing production deficits (this means that there is more demand than supply).’
    • ‘But just to make sure, a second batch of the 24-carat gold over silver over nickel over copper statues is being made and will be flown to Los Angeles rather than by road.’
    • ‘We are already exporting gold and we have substantial resources of silver, uranium, nickel, cobalt, the deposits of which need further investigation.’
  • 2North American A five-cent coin; five cents.

    • ‘It doesn't matter if it's pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters or hundred dollar bills.’
    • ‘Probably at about age 2, they're really more interested in nickels and dimes and quarters than other kind of shiny round things because we always have it in our pockets, and we're always doing something with it.’
    • ‘Think of the things she could do with these quarters, these nickels and pennies.’
    • ‘I don't know about Britain, but it used to be that one could get one's gas pumped for an extra nickel a gallon.’
    • ‘Players take four coins of one denomination, four of a second, two of a third, and one of a fourth (for example, four pennies, four nickels, two quarters, and one dollar).’
    • ‘There on the counter, the boy had left two nickels and five pennies.’
    • ‘My neighbors handed over nickels when I appeared at their front doors with the latest issue, a kindness that always sent me back to the typewriter to do it all over again for the coming week.’
    • ‘Every time I'd get a couple nickels scrapped together I'd go down and hang out.’
    • ‘She'd given the restaurant all she had in her purse, a grand total of twenty-seven dollars and thirty six cents, the last dollar and thirty-six cents in pennies and nickels.’
    • ‘Cross the street to save that nickel per gallon when the price is lower.’
    • ‘Here we have ten coins: pennies, nickels, and dimes.’
    • ‘One evening while raiding a grocery store cash register with some friends for nickels and dimes, he is arrested and taken to a juvenile prison.’
    • ‘I got out all my change, and put it on the counter: two pennies, two nickels, two quarters.’
    • ‘If you are going to play, it's better to play one quarter on a full pay machine than five nickels on a short pay machine.’
    • ‘For decades mainstream black organizations such as the NAACP relied on the nickels and dimes of poor and working class blacks for their support.’
    • ‘You have five quarters, two nickels, three dimes and a penny in your pocket.’
    • ‘The woman's face fell as Anne counted out exact change from her mass of nickels, dimes, pennies, and quarters.’
    • ‘After a day of collecting ones and fives and nickels and quarters, it strangely looked like a lot of money.’
    • ‘Several informants told of being assessed a fine with fees ranging from pennies to nickels to dimes to quarters for each word of Spanish uttered.’
    • ‘For the change-making task, three quarters, seven dimes, and seven nickels are placed in front of the patient, who then is asked to provide one dollar in change.’


[with object]
  • Coat with nickel.

    • ‘The gun that came out of Devel as a Basic Combat Conversion, shortened and electroless nickeled, looked like it grew that size, but still packed a punch.’
    • ‘Riggs had executed scrollwork on more than 75 percent of the big Smith and then had it satin nickeled to better show off the engraving.’
    cover, coat, overlay, laminate, veneer
    View synonyms


Mid 18th century: shortening of German Kupfernickel, the copper-colored ore from which nickel was first obtained, from Kupfer ‘copper’ + Nickel ‘demon’ (with reference to the ore's failure to yield copper).