Meaning of “plastic” in the English Dictionary

"plastic" in British English

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uk /ˈplæs.tɪk/ us /ˈplæs.tɪk/

plastic noun (SUBSTANCE)

A2 [ C or U ] an artificial substance that can be shaped when soft into many different forms and has many different uses:

He put a sheet of plastic over the broken window.
Those flowers aren't real - they're made of plastic.
plastics [ U ]

the process or business of producing plastic:

The company has moved into plastics.
the plastics industry

More examples

  • Copper conducts electricity, but plastic does not.
  • The architects have made imaginative use of glass and transparent plastic.
  • This plastic is going to be moulded into plates.
  • These toys are made from tough plastic.
  • These are the electrical connectors, cased in waterproof plastic.


uk /ˈplæs.tɪk/ us /ˈplæs.tɪk/

plastic adjective (SUBSTANCE)

A2 made of plastic:

a plastic bag/box/cup

More examples

  • I keep my computer printer under a protective plastic cover.
  • The wires were fastened together with a plastic clip.
  • These plastic cups are virtually indestructible.
  • The table has a plastic coating which prevents liquids from permeating into the wood beneath.
  • There's a new scheme in our town for recycling plastic bottles.

(Definition of “plastic” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"plastic" in American English

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plasticnoun [ C/U ]

us /ˈplæs·tɪk/

plastic noun [ C/U ] (MATERIAL)

any one of a group of materials made chemically and shaped into different forms for different uses:

[ U ] The cover of the book is actually made of plastic, though it looks like cloth.
[ C ] Plastics can be produced in the form of fibers or sheets and are used in building materials as well as in consumer goods.


us /ˈplæs·tɪk/

plastic adjective (SOFT)

soft enough to be shaped into different forms:

Clay is a plastic material.

(Definition of “plastic” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"plastic" in Business English

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plasticnoun [ U ]

uk /ˈplæstɪk/ us

informal MONEY credit cards or other bank cards that are used to pay for things rather than using cash:

Most people want the convenience of paying with plastic.

(Definition of “plastic” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)