Metal is a shiny, hard, solid material, such as iron or aluminum. If, when you smile, you flash a brilliant metal grin, it's probably because of your braces.

The Greek root metallon originally meant quarry or mine, and later came to also mean metal. Silver jewelry is made of metal, and so are things like car engines and tin cans. The genre of rock music popularly known as metal gets its name from the heavy sound, especially of the guitar solo, played on electric guitars — made of metal.

Definitions of metal
  1. noun
    any of several chemical elements that are usually shiny solids that conduct heat or electricity and can be formed into sheets etc.
    synonyms: metallic element
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    heavy metal
    a metal of relatively high density (specific gravity greater than about 5) or of high relative atomic weight (especially one that is poisonous like mercury or lead)
    base metal
    a metal that is common and not considered precious
    noble metal
    any metal that is resistant to corrosion or oxidation
    Al, aluminium, aluminum, atomic number 13
    a silvery ductile metallic element found primarily in bauxite
    Am, americium, atomic number 95
    a radioactive transuranic metallic element; discovered by bombarding uranium with helium atoms
    Sb, antimony, atomic number 51
    a metallic element having four allotropic forms; used in a wide variety of alloys; found in stibnite
    Ba, atomic number 56, barium
    a soft silvery metallic element of the alkali earth group; found in barite
    Bk, atomic number 97, berkelium
    a radioactive transuranic element; discovered by bombarding americium with helium
    Be, atomic number 4, beryllium, glucinium
    a light strong brittle grey toxic bivalent metallic element
    Bi, atomic number 83, bismuth
    a heavy brittle diamagnetic trivalent metallic element (resembles arsenic and antimony chemically); usually recovered as a by-product from ores of other metals
    Cd, atomic number 48, cadmium
    a soft bluish-white ductile malleable toxic bivalent metallic element; occurs in association with zinc ores
    Ca, atomic number 20, calcium
    a white metallic element that burns with a brilliant light; the fifth most abundant element in the earth's crust; an important component of most plants and animals
    Cf, atomic number 98, californium
    a radioactive transuranic element; discovered by bombarding curium with alpha particles
    Ce, atomic number 58, cerium
    a ductile grey metallic element of the lanthanide series; used in lighter flints; the most abundant of the rare-earth group
    Cs, atomic number 55, caesium, cesium
    a soft silver-white ductile metallic element (liquid at normal temperatures); the most electropositive and alkaline metal
    Cr, atomic number 24, chromium
    a hard brittle multivalent metallic element; resistant to corrosion and tarnishing
    Co, atomic number 27, cobalt
    a hard ferromagnetic silver-white bivalent or trivalent metallic element; a trace element in plant and animal nutrition
    Cu, atomic number 29, copper
    a ductile malleable reddish-brown corrosion-resistant diamagnetic metallic element; occurs in various minerals but is the only metal that occurs abundantly in large masses; used as an electrical and thermal conductor
    Cm, atomic number 96, curium
    a radioactive transuranic metallic element; produced by bombarding plutonium with helium nuclei
    Dy, atomic number 66, dysprosium
    a trivalent metallic element of the rare earth group; forms compounds that are highly magnetic
    E, Es, atomic number 99, einsteinium
    a radioactive transuranic element produced by bombarding plutonium with neutrons
    Er, atomic number 68, erbium
    a trivalent metallic element of the rare earth group; occurs with yttrium
    Eu, atomic number 63, europium
    a bivalent and trivalent metallic element of the rare earth group
    Fm, atomic number 100, fermium
    a radioactive transuranic metallic element produced by bombarding plutonium with neutrons
    Fr, atomic number 87, francium
    a radioactive element of the alkali-metal group discovered as a disintegration product of actinium
    Gd, atomic number 64, gadolinium
    a ductile silvery-white ductile ferromagnetic trivalent metallic element of the rare earth group
    Ga, atomic number 31, gallium
    a rare silvery (usually trivalent) metallic element; brittle at low temperatures but liquid above room temperature; occurs in trace amounts in bauxite and zinc ores
    Hf, atomic number 72, hafnium
    a grey tetravalent metallic element that resembles zirconium chemically and is found in zirconium minerals; used in filaments for its ready emission of electrons
    Ho, atomic number 67, holmium
    a trivalent metallic element of the rare earth group; occurs together with yttrium; forms highly magnetic compounds
    In, atomic number 49, indium
    a rare soft silvery metallic element; occurs in small quantities in sphalerite
    Ir, atomic number 77, iridium
    a heavy brittle metallic element of the platinum group; used in alloys; occurs in natural alloys with platinum or osmium
    Fe, atomic number 26, iron
    a heavy ductile magnetic metallic element; is silver-white in pure form but readily rusts; used in construction and tools and armament; plays a role in the transport of oxygen by the blood
    La, atomic number 57, lanthanum
    a white soft metallic element that tarnishes readily; occurs in rare earth minerals and is usually classified as a rare earth
    Pb, atomic number 82, lead
    a soft heavy toxic malleable metallic element; bluish white when freshly cut but tarnishes readily to dull grey
    Li, atomic number 3, lithium
    a soft silver-white univalent element of the alkali metal group; the lightest metal known; occurs in several minerals
    Lu, atomic number 71, lutecium, lutetium
    a trivalent metallic element of the rare earth group; usually occurs in association with yttrium
    Mg, atomic number 12, magnesium
    a light silver-white ductile bivalent metallic element; in pure form it burns with brilliant white flame; occurs naturally only in combination (as in magnesite and dolomite and carnallite and spinel and olivine)
    Mn, atomic number 25, manganese
    a hard brittle grey polyvalent metallic element that resembles iron but is not magnetic; used in making steel; occurs in many minerals
    Hg, atomic number 80, hydrargyrum, mercury, quicksilver
    a heavy silvery toxic univalent and bivalent metallic element; the only metal that is liquid at ordinary temperatures
    Mo, atomic number 42, molybdenum
    a polyvalent metallic element that resembles chromium and tungsten in its properties; used to strengthen and harden steel
    Nd, atomic number 60, neodymium
    a yellow trivalent metallic element of the rare earth group; occurs in monazite and bastnasite in association with cerium and lanthanum and praseodymium
    Np, atomic number 93, neptunium
    a radioactive transuranic metallic element; found in trace amounts in uranium ores; a by-product of the production of plutonium
    Ni, atomic number 28, nickel
    a hard malleable ductile silvery metallic element that is resistant to corrosion; used in alloys; occurs in pentlandite and smaltite and garnierite and millerite
    Nb, atomic number 41, niobium
    a soft grey ductile metallic element used in alloys; occurs in niobite; formerly called columbium
    Os, atomic number 76, osmium
    a hard brittle blue-grey or blue-black metallic element that is one of the platinum metals; the heaviest metal known
    Pd, atomic number 46, palladium
    a silver-white metallic element of the platinum group that resembles platinum; occurs in some copper and nickel ores; does not tarnish at ordinary temperatures and is used (alloyed with gold) in jewelry
    Po, atomic number 84, polonium
    a radioactive metallic element that is similar to tellurium and bismuth; occurs in uranium ores but can be produced by bombarding bismuth with neutrons in a nuclear reactor
    K, atomic number 19, potassium
    a light soft silver-white metallic element of the alkali metal group; oxidizes rapidly in air and reacts violently with water; is abundant in nature in combined forms occurring in sea water and in carnallite and kainite and sylvite
    Pr, atomic number 59, praseodymium
    a soft yellowish-white trivalent metallic element of the rare earth group; can be recovered from bastnasite or monazite by an ion-exchange process
    Pm, atomic number 61, promethium
    a soft silvery metallic element of the rare earth group having no stable isotope; was discovered in radioactive form as a fission product of uranium
    Pa, atomic number 91, protactinium, protoactinium
    a short-lived radioactive metallic element formed from uranium and disintegrating into actinium and then into lead
    Ra, atomic number 88, radium
    an intensely radioactive metallic element that occurs in minute amounts in uranium ores
    Re, atomic number 75, rhenium
    a rare heavy polyvalent metallic element that resembles manganese chemically and is used in some alloys; is obtained as a by-product in refining molybdenum
    Rh, atomic number 45, rhodium
    a white hard metallic element that is one of the platinum group and is found in platinum ores; used in alloys with platinum
    Rb, atomic number 37, rubidium
    a soft silvery metallic element of the alkali metal group; burns in air and reacts violently in water; occurs in carnallite and lepidolite and pollucite
    Ru, atomic number 44, ruthenium
    a rare polyvalent metallic element of the platinum group; it is found associated with platinum
    Sm, atomic number 62, samarium
    a grey lustrous metallic element of the rare earth group; is used in special alloys; occurs in monazite and bastnasite
    Sc, atomic number 21, scandium
    a white trivalent metallic element; sometimes classified in the rare earth group; occurs in the Scandinavian mineral thortveitite
    Na, atomic number 11, sodium
    a silvery soft waxy metallic element of the alkali metal group; occurs abundantly in natural compounds (especially in salt water); burns with a yellow flame and reacts violently in water; occurs in sea water and in the mineral halite (rock salt)
    Sr, atomic number 38, strontium
    a soft silver-white or yellowish metallic element of the alkali metal group; turns yellow in air; occurs in celestite and strontianite
    Ta, atomic number 73, tantalum
    a hard grey lustrous metallic element that is highly resistant to corrosion; occurs in niobite and fergusonite and tantalite
    Tc, atomic number 43, technetium
    a crystalline metallic element not found in nature; occurs as one of the fission products of uranium
    Tb, atomic number 65, terbium
    a metallic element of the rare earth group; used in lasers; occurs in apatite and monazite and xenotime and ytterbite
    Tl, atomic number 81, thallium
    a soft grey malleable metallic element that resembles tin but discolors on exposure to air; it is highly toxic and is used in rodent and insect poisons; occurs in zinc blende and some iron ores
    Th, atomic number 90, thorium
    a soft silvery-white tetravalent radioactive metallic element; isotope 232 is used as a power source in nuclear reactors; occurs in thorite and in monazite sands
    Tm, atomic number 69, thulium
    a soft silvery metallic element of the rare earth group; isotope 170 emits X-rays and is used in small portable X-ray machines; it occurs in monazite and apatite and xenotime
    Sn, atomic number 50, tin
    a silvery malleable metallic element that resists corrosion; used in many alloys and to coat other metals to prevent corrosion; obtained chiefly from cassiterite where it occurs as tin oxide
    Ti, atomic number 22, titanium
    a light strong grey lustrous corrosion-resistant metallic element used in strong lightweight alloys (as for airplane parts); the main sources are rutile and ilmenite
    W, atomic number 74, tungsten, wolfram
    a heavy grey-white metallic element; the pure form is used mainly in electrical applications; it is found in several ores including wolframite and scheelite
    U, atomic number 92, uranium
    a heavy toxic silvery-white radioactive metallic element; occurs in many isotopes; used for nuclear fuels and nuclear weapons
    V, atomic number 23, vanadium
    a soft silvery white toxic metallic element used in steel alloys; it occurs in several complex minerals including carnotite and vanadinite
    Yb, atomic number 70, ytterbium
    a soft silvery metallic element; a rare earth of the lanthanide series; it occurs in gadolinite and monazite and xenotime
    Y, atomic number 39, yttrium
    a silvery metallic element that is common in rare-earth minerals; used in magnesium and aluminum alloys
    Zn, atomic number 30, zinc
    a bluish-white lustrous metallic element; brittle at ordinary temperatures but malleable when heated; used in a wide variety of alloys and in galvanizing iron; it occurs naturally as zinc sulphide in zinc blende
    Zr, atomic number 40, zirconium
    a lustrous grey strong metallic element resembling titanium; it is used in nuclear reactors as a neutron absorber; it occurs in baddeleyite but is obtained chiefly from zircon
    alkali metal, alkaline metal
    any of the monovalent metals of group I of the periodic table (lithium or sodium or potassium or rubidium or cesium or francium)
    alkaline earth, alkaline-earth metal
    any of the bivalent metals of group II of the periodic table (calcium or strontium or barium or magnesium or beryllium)
    alum, potash alum, potassium alum
    a white crystalline double sulfate of aluminum: the potassium double sulfate of aluminum
    alum, ammonia alum, ammonium alum
    a white crystalline double sulfate of aluminum: the ammonium double sulfate of aluminum
    any of several compounds of barium
    cesium 137
    a radioactive isotope of cesium used in radiation therapy
    cobalt 60
    a radioactive isotope of cobalt with mass number 60; a source of exceptionally intense gamma rays; used in radiation therapy
    Au, atomic number 79, gold
    a soft yellow malleable ductile (trivalent and univalent) metallic element; occurs mainly as nuggets in rocks and alluvial deposits; does not react with most chemicals but is attacked by chlorine and aqua regia
    a former name for niobium
    Pt, atomic number 78, platinum
    a heavy precious metallic element; grey-white and resistant to corroding; occurs in some nickel and copper ores and is also found native in some deposits
    Ag, atomic number 47, silver
    a soft white precious univalent metallic element having the highest electrical and thermal conductivity of any metal; occurs in argentite and in free form; used in coins and jewelry and tableware and photography
    strontium 90
    a radioactive isotope of strontium (with the mass number 90) that is present in the fallout from nuclear explosions; can be assimilated like calcium into bones
    radiothorium, thorium-228
    radioactive isotope of thorium with mass number 228
    uranium 235
    a uranium isotope with mass number 235; capable of sustaining chain reactions
    uranium 238
    the commonest isotope of uranium; it is not fissionable but when irradiated with neutrons it produces fissionable plutonium 239
    alpha iron
    a magnetic allotrope of iron; stable below 906 degrees centigrade
    beta iron
    an allotrope of iron that is the same as alpha iron except that it is nonmagnetic; stable between 768 and 906 degrees centigrade
    gamma iron
    a nonmagnetic allotrope of iron that is the basis of austenite; stable between 906 and 1403 degrees centigrade
    delta iron
    an allotrope of iron that is stable between 1403 degrees centigrade and the melting point (= 1532 degrees)
    blister copper
    an impure form of copper having a black blistered surface
    ingot iron
    iron of high purity
    cast iron
    an alloy of iron containing so much carbon that it is brittle and so cannot be wrought but must be shaped by casting
    wrought iron
    iron having a low carbon content that is tough and malleable and so can be forged and welded
    another word for chromium when it is used in dyes or pigments
    galvanized iron
    iron that is coated with zinc to protect it from rust
    hard lead
    unrefined lead that is hard because of the impurities it contains
    antimonial lead, hard lead
    a lead alloy that contains about 5% antimony
    pig iron
    crude iron tapped from a blast furnace
    pig lead
    lead that is cast in pigs
    scrap iron
    iron to be melted again and reworked
    impure zinc containing about three percent lead and other impurities (especially in the form of ingots)
    structural iron
    iron that has been cast or worked in structural shapes
    calcium ion, factor IV
    ion of calcium; a factor in the clotting of blood
    type of:
    chemical element, element
    any of the more than 100 known substances (of which 92 occur naturally) that cannot be separated into simpler substances and that singly or in combination constitute all matter
  2. noun
    a mixture containing two or more metallic elements or metallic and nonmetallic elements usually fused together or dissolving into each other when molten
    synonyms: alloy
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    heavy metal
    a metal of relatively high density (specific gravity greater than about 5) or of high relative atomic weight (especially one that is poisonous like mercury or lead)
    18-karat gold
    an alloy that contains 75 per cent gold
    22-karat gold
    an alloy that contains 87 per cent gold
    oreide, oroide
    alloy of copper and tin and zinc; used in imitation gold jewelry
    trade name for an alloy used to make high-energy permanent magnets; contains aluminum and iron and nickel plus cobalt or copper or titanium
    amalgam, dental amalgam
    an alloy of mercury with another metal (usually silver) used by dentists to fill cavities in teeth; except for iron and platinum all metals dissolve in mercury and chemists refer to the resulting mercury mixtures as amalgams
    fusible metal
    an alloy with a low melting point and used as solder and in safety plugs and sprinkler fuses
    an alloy of gold and silver
    any of various alloys of tin with small amounts of other metals (especially lead)
    an alloy of copper and zinc that is used in cheap jewelry to imitate gold
    pot metal
    an alloy of copper and lead used especially for making large pots
    an alloy (usually of lead and tin) used when melted to join two metal surfaces
    white gold
    a pale alloy of gold usually with platinum or nickel or palladium
    type metal
    an alloy of tin and lead and antimony used to make printing type
    bearing metal, white metal
    an alloy (often of lead or tin base) used for bearings
    Babbitt metal, babbitt
    an alloy of tin with some copper and antimony; a lining for bearings that reduces friction
    Britannia metal
    an alloy similar to pewter
    an alloy based on tungsten with cobalt or nickel as a binder; used in making metal-cutting tools
    an alloy of iron with small amounts of carbon; widely used in construction; mechanical properties can be varied over a wide range
    cheoplastic metal
    any alloy that fuses at low temperatures and can be used molding artificial teeth
    copper-base alloy
    any alloy whose principal component is copper
    dental gold
    an alloy of gold used in dentistry
    an aluminum-based alloy
    a nickel-base alloy with chromium and iron; used in gas-turbine blades
    an alloy of iron and nickel having a low coefficient of thermal expansion; used in tuning forks and measuring tapes and other instruments
    nickel alloy, nickel-base alloy
    an alloy whose main constituent is nickel
    German silver, nickel silver
    a silver-white alloy containing copper and zinc and nickel
    pyrophoric alloy
    an alloy that emits sparks when struck or scratched with steel; used in lighter flints
    shot metal
    an alloy that is 98% lead and 2% arsenic; used in making small shot
    a very hard alloy of cobalt and chromium with cobalt as the principal ingredient; used to make cutting tools and for surfaces subject to heavy wear
    sterling silver
    a silver alloy with no more than 7.5% copper
    tambac, tombac, tombak
    an alloy of copper and zinc (and sometimes arsenic) used to imitate gold in cheap jewelry and for gilding
    Wood's alloy, Wood's metal
    a fusible alloy that is half bismuth plus lead, tin, and cadmium; melts at about 160 degrees Fahrenheit
    slug, type slug
    a strip of type metal used for spacing
    alloy steel
    steel who characteristics are determined by the addition of other elements in addition to carbon
    an alloy of copper and zinc
    an alloy of copper and tin and sometimes other elements; also any copper-base alloy containing other elements in place of tin
    a 60/40 alloy of copper and nickel
    hard solder
    solder that contains copper; melts at a relatively high temperature; used for brazing
    silver solder
    a solder that contains silver
    soft solder
    solder that melts at a relatively low temperature
    Monel metal, Monell metal
    an alloy of nickel and copper and other metals (such as iron and/or manganese and/or aluminum)
    aluminium bronze, aluminum bronze
    an alloy of copper and aluminum with high tensile strength and resistance to corrosion
    austenitic steel
    steel that has enough nickel and chromium or manganese to retain austenite at atmospheric temperatures
    case-hardened steel
    steel with a surface that is much harder than the interior metal
    carbon steel
    steel whose characteristics are determined by the amount of carbon it contains
    crucible steel
    steel made by the mixture of molten wrought iron, charcoal, and other substances in a crucible
    Damascus steel, Damask steel
    a hard resilient steel often decorated and used for sword blades
    chisel steel
    steel used in making chisels
    Eureka, constantan
    an alloy of copper and nickel with high electrical resistance and a low temperature coefficient; used as resistance wire
    a pyrophoric alloy of iron with cerium; used for lighter flints
    hard steel
    steel with more than 0.3% carbon
    medium steel
    steel with 0.15-0.3% carbon
    low-carbon steel, mild steel, soft-cast steel
    steel with less than 0.15% carbon
    misch metal
    a pyrophoric alloy made from a mixture of rare-earth metals
    an alloy of nickel and chromium with high electrical resistance and an ability to withstand high temperatures; used for resistance heating elements
    an 80/20 alloy of nickel and iron; easily magnetized and demagnetized
    quenched steel
    steel that has been hardened by immersing it in water or oil to cool it
    structural steel
    a strong steel that is rolled into shapes that are used in construction
    type of:
    (chemistry) a substance consisting of two or more substances mixed together (not in fixed proportions and not with chemical bonding)
  3. adjective
    containing or made of or resembling or characteristic of a metal
    synonyms: metallic
    consisting completely of metal
    containing alum or aluminum
    containing antimony
    containing or yielding silver
    auriferous, gold-bearing
    containing gold
    bimetal, bimetallic
    formed of two different metals or alloys; especially in sheets bonded together
    made from or consisting of bronze
    gilded, gold, golden
    made from or covered with gold
    metal-looking, metallic-looking, metallike
    resembling metal
    made from or largely consisting of silver
    thin and metallic in sound; lacking resonance
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    nonmetal, nonmetallic
    not containing or resembling or characteristic of a metal
    of or being a nonmetallic element that has some of the properties of metal
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  4. verb
    cover with metal
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    type of:
    coat, surface
    put a coat on; cover the surface of; furnish with a surface
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