From Middle English cley, clay, from Old English clǣġ (“clay”), from Proto-Germanic *klajjaz (“clay”), from Proto-Indo-European *gley- (“to glue, paste, stick together”). Cognate with Dutch klei (“clay”), Low German Klei (“clay”), German Klei, Danish klæg (“clay”); compare Ancient Greek γλία (glía), Latin glūten (“glue”) (whence ultimately English glue), Ukrainian ґлей (glej, “clay”). Related also to clag, clog.
clay (usually uncountable, plural clays)
- A mineral substance made up of small crystals of silica and alumina, that is ductile when moist; the material of pre-fired ceramics.
- An earth material with ductile qualities.
- (tennis) A tennis court surface.
- (biblical) The material of the human body.
- (geology) A particle less than 3.9 microns in diameter, following the Wentworth scale.
- A clay pipe for smoking tobacco.
- (firearms, informal) A clay pigeon.
- (informal) Land or territory of a country or other political region.
clay (third-person singular simple present clays, present participle claying, simple past and past participle clayed)
- (transitive) To add clay to, to spread clay onto.
- (transitive, of sugar) To purify using clay.