nuclear

adjective
nu·​cle·​ar | \ ˈnü-klē-ər How to pronounce nuclear (audio) , ˈnyü- How to pronounce nuclear (audio) , nonstandard -kyə-lər\

Definition of nuclear

1 : of, relating to, or constituting a nucleus annexation of the suburban fringe by the nuclear metropolis— W. H. Wickwar
2a : of or relating to the atomic nucleus nuclear reaction nuclear physics
b : used in or produced by a nuclear reaction (such as fission) nuclear fuel nuclear waste nuclear energy
c(1) : being a weapon whose destructive power derives from an uncontrolled nuclear reaction
(2) : of, produced by, or involving nuclear weapons the nuclear age nuclear war
(3) : armed with nuclear weapons nuclear powers
d : of, relating to, or powered by nuclear energy a nuclear submarine the nuclear debate a nuclear plant
go nuclear
informal
: to become wildly excited or upset : to go berserk To say the crowd went wild is an understatement. The crowd went nuclear. Outside the stadium, cars were overturned and fires were set. We sportswriters huddled inside, fearing for our lives.— Tony Kornheiser

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How do you pronounce nuclear?: Usage Guide

Though disapproved of by many, pronunciations ending in \-kyə-lər\ have been found in widespread use among educated speakers including scientists, lawyers, professors, congressmen, U.S. cabinet members, and at least two U.S. presidents and one vice president. While most common in the U.S., these pronunciations have also been heard from British and Canadian speakers.

Examples of nuclear in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Russian President Vladimir Putin also said recently that the nation was prepared to drop the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) nuclear weapons agreement treaty with the United States. Dylan Bouscher, The Mercury News, "Political Cartoons: News around the world," 12 June 2019 The massive facility at Yucca Mountain was designed as a permanent location to house waste from nuclear power plants. Rob Nikolewski, San Diego Union-Tribune, "New Mexico’s governor comes out against nuclear waste site," 10 June 2019 Yet Chernobyl isn’t a polemic against nuclear power or against the Soviet Union or against communism in general. Emily Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "Chernobyl’s stellar finale makes a case for the show as science fiction," 9 June 2019 On the morning of April 28, 1986, an employee of the Forsmark nuclear power plant an hour north of Stockholm was returning from a restroom break when his shoes set off the radiation alarm. Mona Charen, National Review, "Lessons of Chernobyl," 7 June 2019 The Trump administration authorized the sharing of nuclear power information with Saudi Arabia shortly after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October, Reuters reports. Amy Gunia, Time, "The U.S. Shared Nuclear Information With Saudi Arabia After Khashoggi's Murder," 5 June 2019 At the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, then a part of the Soviet Union, a reactor exploded, resulting in at least 32 deaths in the immediate aftermath. CBS News, "Chernobyl disaster: How accurate is the HBO series?," 3 June 2019 Roughly 60% of America’s carbon-free energy comes from nuclear power. John Barrasso, WSJ, "Get Serious About Burying Nuclear Waste," 28 May 2019 Illinois and New York have approved hundreds of millions of dollars in clean-energy incentives for nuclear power companies. Talia Buford, ProPublica, "New Jersey’s $300 Million Nuclear Power Bailout Is Facing a Court Challenge. Does It Have a Chance?," 16 May 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nuclear.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of nuclear

1822, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for nuclear

nucle(us) + -ar

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Statistics for nuclear

Last Updated

15 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for nuclear

The first known use of nuclear was in 1822

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More Definitions for nuclear

nuclear

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of nuclear

: of, relating to, producing, or using energy that is created when the nuclei of atoms are split apart or joined together
: having or involving nuclear weapons
: of or relating to the nucleus of an atom

nuclear

adjective
nu·​cle·​ar | \ ˈnü-klē-ər How to pronounce nuclear (audio) , ˈnyü-\

Kids Definition of nuclear

1 : of, relating to, or being a nucleus (as of a cell)
2 : of or relating to the nucleus of the atom Fission is a nuclear reaction.
3 : produced by a nuclear reaction nuclear energy
4 : of, relating to, or being a weapon whose destructive power comes from an uncontrolled nuclear reaction
5 : relating to or powered by nuclear energy a nuclear submarine

nuclear

adjective
nu·​cle·​ar | \ ˈn(y)ü-klē-ər How to pronounce nuclear (audio) \

Medical Definition of nuclear

1 : of, relating to, or constituting a nucleus
2 : of, relating to, or utilizing the atomic nucleus, atomic energy, the atomic bomb, or atomic power

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More from Merriam-Webster on nuclear

Spanish Central: Translation of nuclear

Nglish: Translation of nuclear for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of nuclear for Arabic Speakers

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