Words related to nickel

copper (n.1)

malleable metallic element, noted for its peculiar red color, tenacity, malleability, and electric conductivity, late Old English coper, from Proto-Germanic *kupar (source also of Middle Dutch koper, Old Norse koparr, Old High German kupfar), from Late Latin cuprum, contraction of Latin Cyprium (aes) "Cyprian (metal)," after Greek Kyprios "Cyprus" (see Cyprus).

Ancient Greek had khalkos "ore, copper, bronze;" an old IE word for "ore, copper, bronze" is retained in Sanskrit ayah, Latin aes. Latin aes originally was "copper," but this was extended to its alloy with tin (see bronze), and as this was far more extensively used than pure copper, the word's primary sense shifted to the alloy and a new word evolved for "copper," from the Latin form of the name of the island of Cyprus, where copper was mined (the alchemists associated copper with Venus).

Aes passed into Germanic (which originally did not distinguish copper from its alloys) and became English ore. In Latin, aes was the common word for "cash, coin, debt, wages" in many figurative expressions. Chemical symbol Cu is from cuprum.

As "a copper coin," from 1580s; as "a vessel made of copper," 1660s. The adjective, "of or resembling copper," is from 1570s; the verb, "to cover with copper" is from 1520s.


masc. proper name, from French Nicolas, from Latin Nicholaus, Nicolaus, from Greek Nikholaos, literally "victory-people," from nikē "victory" (see Nike) + laos "people" (see lay (adj.)). The saint (died 326 C.E.) was a bishop of Myra in Lycia, patron of scholars, especially schoolboys. A popular given name in England in the Middle Ages (the native form, Nicol, was more common in early Middle English), as was the fem. form Nicolaa, corresponding to French Nicole. Colloquial Old Nick "the devil" is attested from 1640s, evidently from the proper name, but for no certain reason.

cobalt (n.)

1680s as the name of a type of steel-gray metal, from German kobold "household goblin" (13c.), which became also a Harz Mountains silver miners' term for rock laced with arsenic and sulfur (according to OED so called because it degraded the ore and made the miners ill), from Middle High German kobe "hut, shed" + *holt "goblin," from hold "gracious, friendly," a euphemistic word for a troublesome being.

The metallic element (closely resembling nickel but much rarer) was extracted from this rock. It was known to Paracelsus, but discovery is usually credited to the Swede George Brandt (1733), who gave it the name. Extended to a blue color 1835 (a mineral containing it had been used as a blue coloring for glass since 16c.). Compare nickel. Related: Cobaltic; cobaltous.

copper-nickel (n.)

alloy of copper that contains nickel, used in coinage, etc., 1728; see copper (n.1) + nickel.

nickelodeon (n.)

1888 as the name of a theater in Boston; by 1909 as "a motion picture theater," from nickel "five-cent coin" (the cost to view one) + -odeon, as in Melodeon (1840) "music hall," ultimately from Greek oideion "building for musical performances" (see odeon). Meaning "nickel jukebox" is first attested 1938.

The nickelodeon is the poor man's theater. An entire family can obtain from it a whole evening's amusement for what it formerly cost to get one poor seat at an inferior production. ["The Moving-Picture Show" in Munsey's Magazine, 1909]

alternative spelling of nickel (q.v.).