This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Word To Use Today: nickel.

Nickel is a brilliant word (you can hear the metal chinking, can't you?) and it's been generous enough to give us some lovely adjectives. Nickelic, meaning containing nickel, is perhaps my favourite, but there's nickeliferous and nickelous, too. They both mean pretty much the same as nickelic.

A pitted and lumpy piece of silvery metal, with the top surface cut flat

If you're in the USA or Canada a nickel is a coin worth five cents (though for a while it was worth three). That's never been a lot of money, but the word has a big enough personality to have given us nickelodeon. A nickelodeon can be can be a cinema with a five cent admission charge, a sort of jukebox, or a sort of mechanical piano.

Then there's the Nickel Belt - no, not something for carrying your money, but an area in Northern Ontario where people dig up nickel ore.

Again in the USA and Canada, the local form of football can use a nickeldefense. This will involve five people, one of whom is a nickelback.

The game nickels, however can be played more or less anywhere. All you have to do is to throw a coin in such a way that it ends up closer to a wall than anyone else's coin.

The nickel that's used in everyday life is almost always mixed up with other metals. It's used in silver plating and stainless steel, for example. You get it in some batteries, too.

All in all, nickel seems rather low-key, harmless stuff (unless it gives you dermatitis) but guess what? It may seem harmless, but...

...nickel is named after the devil.

Word To Use Today: nickel. This word is a shortened form of Kupfernickel, which means copper demon (the nickel bit is basically same word as in Old Nick). It's called this because German miners had such trouble getting copper out of nickel ore. Which wasn't surprising, as it didn't actually have any copper in it.

German miners had a similar opinion of cobalt, too.


  1. I shall start calling our nickels 'demons' from now on.
    'Money is the root of all evil' makes more sense now! :)

    1. A bit more sense - though, to be fair, the trying-to-tear-my-best-friend's-head-off-because-he-stole-my-girlfriend thing isn't that virtuous, and may not be much to do with money.

  2. I went to school with a guy called Nick Ellick ...

    No. No I didn't. But I really wish I had.

    1. I went to school with a girl called Hilary Needham. But I really wish I hadn't.