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clay Syllabification: clay

Definition of clay in English:


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.
Example sentences
  • One slope of the mound had clay loam soil and another had sandy loam.
  • Actually red clay was used to build it.
  • Not only is it waterproof, but it will also dry like baked polymer clays.
china clay, kaolin, adobe, ball clay, argil, pug;
1.1 technical Sediment with particles smaller than silt, typically less than 0.00016 inch (0.004 mm).
1.2A hardened clay surface for a tennis court.
Example sentences
  • Of the surfaces on which tennis is played - clay, hard court, carpet, synthetic - grass suits above all the serve-and-volley game.
  • Fortunately the competition will be played on a hard court surface and not clay which many of our players are not familiar with.
  • 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.
1.3 literary The substance of the human body: this lifeless clay
More example sentences
  • It was the rest of him that was made of fallible human clay.
  • 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.


feet of clay
see foot.


Pronunciation: /ˈklāē/
Example sentences
  • The top 30 m of the subsurface soil strata in Calcutta consists mainly of successive layers of clay, silty clay and clayey silt, and can be subdivided into two horizons based on the relative compressibility of the different strata.
  • To maintain a minimum depth of 30 cm with a seepage loss of 3 percent, the streambed will require a 0.5 layer of silty clay or clayey gravel.
  • Commonly used isolation barriers are composed of compacted natural inorganic clays or clayey soils.
Example sentences
  • The earliest Cambrian clayish sediment surface was relatively firm and its penetration required much energy.
  • A day and a half of digging and riddling had produced several piles of authentic clayish undersoil.
  • This is a fine-grained quartz sandstone with clayish matrix.
Example sentences
  • Yesterday's event was deemed too risky and dangerous as rain made the soil turn clay-like.
  • The entire backyard and paved courtyard was white with a couple of kilos of these clay-like pellets.
  • Underneath the muskeg is a layer of sand, rock and overburden, a clay-like material.


Old English clǣg; related to Dutch klei, also to cleave2 and climb.

  • clam from early 16th century:

    It is not easy to prise apart a clam, and this tight grip lies behind the origin of the word. Clam originally meant ‘a clamp’, and probably had the same source as clamp (Middle English). There is also an English dialect word clam, meaning ‘to be sticky or to stick to something’, which is related to clay (Old English). It is also where clammy—originally spelled claymy—comes from. See also happy

Words that rhyme with clay

affray, agley, aka, allay, Angers, A-OK, appellation contrôlée, array, assay, astray, au fait, auto-da-fé, away, aweigh, aye, bay, belay, betray, bey, Bombay, Bordet, boulevardier, bouquet, brae, bray, café au lait, Carné, cassoulet, Cathay, chassé, chevet, chez, chiné, convey, Cray, crème brûlée, crudités, cuvée, cy-pres, day, decay, deejay, dégagé, distinguée, downplay, dray, Dufay, Dushanbe, eh, embay, engagé, essay, everyday, faraway, fay, fey, flay, fray, Frey, fromage frais, gainsay, Gaye, Genet, giclee, gilet, glissé, gray, grey, halfway, hay, heigh, hey, hooray, Hubei, Hué, hurray, inveigh, jay, jeunesse dorée, José, Kay, Kaye, Klee, Kray, Lae, lay, lei, Littré, Lough Neagh, lwei, Mae, maguey, Malay, Mallarmé, Mandalay, Marseilles, may, midday, midway, mislay, misplay, Monterrey, Na-Dene, nay, né, née, neigh, Ney, noway, obey, O'Dea, okay, olé, outlay, outplay, outstay, outweigh, oyez, part-way, pay, Pei, per se, pince-nez, play, portray, pray, prey, purvey, qua, Quai d'Orsay, Rae, rangé, ray, re, reflet, relevé, roman-à-clef, Santa Fé, say, sei, Shar Pei, shay, slay, sleigh, sley, spae, spay, Spey, splay, spray, stay, straightaway, straightway, strathspey, stray, Sui, survey, sway, Taipei, Tay, they, today, tokay, Torbay, Tournai, trait, tray, trey, two-way, ukiyo-e, underlay, way, waylay, Wei, weigh, wey, Whangarei, whey, yea
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