General English


  • noun one of the metallic elements e.g. iron, gold, mercury, copper, aluminium


  • A chemical element which is usually a hard, malleable, and dense crystalline solid which is lustrous, and a good conductor of heat and electricity. However, not all metals have all these properties. sodium and potassium, for instance, are soft, mercury is a liquid at ordinary pressures and temperatures, beryllium and bismuth are brittle, and so on. Most naturally occurring elements are metals, and include gold, silver, copper, iron, and cadmium. The properties of each metal may be markedly different than those of others, as seen, for instance in the extremely high reactivity of fran-cium versus the chemical inactivity of gold. Alloys, such as brass and bronze, which exhibit these characteristics are also considered to be metals.

Media Studies

  • noun printer’s type made of metal


  • noun material, either an element or a compound, which can carry heat and electricity. Some metals are essential for life.


  • noun the alloy used to make the type in metal setting

Origin & History of “metal”

Greek métallon, a word of unknown origin, had a range of meanings, including ‘mine’ (the original sense) and ‘mineral’ as well as ‘metal’. these were carried over into Latin metallum, but by the time the word reached English, via Old French metal, ‘metal’ was all that was left. Mettle (16th c.) is a variant spelling of metal, used to distinguish its metaphorical senses.

Closely related is medal (16th c.), which etymologically means ‘something made of metal’. It comes via French médaille and Italian medaglia from a general romance form *medallia. this was an alteration of vulgar Latin *metallea, a derivative of Latin metallum. Medallion (17th c.) goes back via French to Italian medaglione ‘large medal’.