Definition of clay noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



BrE BrE//kleɪ//
; NAmE NAmE//kleɪ//
[uncountable] Art equipment
jump to other results
  • a type of heavy, sticky earth that becomes hard when it is baked and is used to make things such as pots and bricks Synonymssoilmud dust clay land earth dirt groundThese are all words for the top layer of the earth in which plants grow.soil the top layer of the earth in which plants grow:Plant the seedlings in damp soil.mud wet soil that is soft and sticky:The car wheels got stuck in the mud.dust a fine powder that consists of very small pieces of rock, earth, etc:A cloud of dust rose as the truck set off.clay a type of heavy sticky soil that becomes hard when it is baked and is used to make things such as pots and bricks:The tiles are made of clay.land an area of ground, especially of a particular type:an area of rich, fertile landearth the substance that plants grow in. Earth is often used about the soil found in gardens or used for gardening:She put some earth into the pot.dirt (especially North American English) soil, especially loose soil:Pack the dirt firmly around the plants.ground an area of soil:The car got stuck in the muddy ground. They drove across miles of rough, stony ground. Ground is not used for loose soil:a handful of dry groundPatterns good/​rich soil/​land/​earth fertile/​infertile soil/​land/​ground to dig the soil/​mud/​clay/​land/​earth/​ground to cultivate the soil/​land/​ground See related entries: Art equipment
  • Word OriginOld English clǣg, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch klei, also to cleave ‘to stick fast’ and climb.Extra examples She moulded the clay into the shape of a head. a figure made of clay plants that grow in damp clay Clay tends to dry out and crack in the summer months. Digging the heavy clay soil gave me backache. Not much can grow in the wet clay here. The cups are made from the finest china clay. The tiles are made of clay. You’ll need a lump of modelling clay.Idioms to have a fault or weakness in your character When the actor was imprisoned for drug offences, his fans were upset to find that their hero had feet of clay.
    See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: clay