Definition of metal in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈmɛt(ə)l/


[mass noun]
1A solid material which is typically hard, shiny, malleable, fusible, and ductile, with good electrical and thermal conductivity (e.g. iron, gold, silver, and aluminium, and alloys such as steel): an adjustable pole made of metal [count noun]: being a metal, aluminium readily conducts heat
More example sentences
  • Earthen materials like steel, metal and granite are hard to get these days.
  • Known as shape-memory materials, they are metal alloys or polymers that accomplish similar feats in different ways.
  • The result was a new, hard metal, Bessemer steel, ideal for rail-making.
1.1 (metals) The steel tracks of a railway: the locomotive is presently being made ready for operation over Network SouthEast metals
1.2 Heraldry Gold and silver (as tinctures in blazoning).
Example sentences
  • In cases where the mounting or backing of the enamel is metal (silver or gold), matching is not really important.
2 (also road metal) Broken stone for use in road-making: the work also involves dealing with rock aggregates for potential use as suitable road metal
More example sentences
  • In common with other specifications for road construction the contractors had to remove all ‘fixed stones’ from the bed on which road metal was laid.
  • For all we knew they could have just been road metal.
  • 96 Drains were usually constructed 18 in. square and were built with lime-mortared masonry walls that supported flat slab stones beneath the road metal.
3Molten glass before it is blown or cast.
Example sentences
  • In 1952 he thought about using the bed of molten metal to form the flat glass, eliminating altogether the need for the rollers.
4Heavy metal or similar rock music: industrial music is also a blend of metal and techno [with modifier]: crunching power-trio metal
More example sentences
  • When I left the army I dived into metal and rock music headfirst.
  • I listen to hardcore, metal, and rock music, so listening to music when I have a really bad headache makes it worse.
  • But the crunchy metal riffs with squeals of harmonic distortion can only carry an album for so long, and 55 minutes is way beyond that time.

verb (metals, metalling, metalled; North American metals, metaling, metaled)

[with object]
1 (as adjective metalled) Made from or coated with metal: a range of metalled key rings
More example sentences
  • Stevens said it was proposed to leave the metalled track in place after the work was completed which, he said, would be an advantage for people walking through Scotchell.
  • The hot, high Sun in the middle of an azure blue wash - straight out of a David Hockney painting, the metal men stood erect, gazing out to sea in all their metalled nakedness.
  • These we passed on the way up, an ascent made easy to Nab Farm by a metalled track.
2 (usually as adjective metalled) British Make or mend (a road) with road metal: follow the metalled road for about 200 yards the road was metalled and tolls charged for the upkeep
More example sentences
  • In the Montagne Noire area iron slag was used for road metalling, providing a very hard surface that was resistant to any kind of degradation.
  • I mean [the Defendants] to have the fullest right of metalling the road and making it the best road they can to meet the circumstances.
  • Finally in February 1875 the government called tenders for the ‘forming, building culverts, making catch drains and metalling on the road through Coromandel Valley’.


Middle English: from Old French metal or Latin metallum, from Greek metallon 'mine, quarry, or metal'.

  • The words metal and mettle (early 17th century) were once the same. Both could refer to a physical material and to a quality. In the 17th century the quality came to be particularly ‘vigour, spiritedness’, originally of horses but later also referring to people. By the mid 18th century the form mettle was being restricted to this, and metal to the material. Their ultimate origin is Greek metallon ‘mine, quarry, metal’.

Words that rhyme with metal

fettle, kettle, mettle, nettle, petal, Popocatépetl, settle

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: metal

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