nucleic acid


nu·​cle·​ic acid nu̇-ˈklē-ik- How to pronounce nucleic acid (audio) -ˈklā- How to pronounce nucleic acid (audio)
: any of various complex organic acids (such as DNA or RNA) that are composed of nucleotide chains

Examples of nucleic acid in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Over and over again, the detection of even a single case would trigger aggressive contact tracing and quarantine, mass nucleic acid testing, and severe lockdowns of neighborhoods or, if necessary, an entire city. Yanzhong Huang, Foreign Affairs, 26 Jan. 2022 But, there are more moving through clinical trials, said Drew Burch, president of nucleic acid products at TriLink. Natallie Rocha, San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 May 2024 Now, dozens of companies around the world make and ship synthetic nucleic acids en masse. Emily Mullin, WIRED, 6 May 2024 Agilent developed a way to print strands of DNA from the four nucleic acid bases—cytosine (C), guanine (G), adenine (A), and thymine (T). Phillip W. Barth, IEEE Spectrum, 25 Mar. 2024 Our new findings suggest that our microbes are likely playing a part in this recycling process by converting large nitrogen-containing molecules like proteins and nucleic acids into ammonium. Jennifer Debruyn, The Conversation, 28 Sep. 2023 Shown are a variety of nucleic acids — messenger RNA (mRNA), microRNA (miRNA), piwi-interacting RNA (piRNA), small nucleolar RNA (snoRNA) — as well as classes of proteins that serve different functions. Matías A. Loewy, Discover Magazine, 25 Mar. 2023 Each position in a single strand of DNA consists of one of four nucleic acids, known as bases and represented as A, T, G, and C. IEEE Spectrum, 17 Feb. 2024 The code was incomplete, a sequence of programming phrases that bracketed a partial map of nucleic acids, amino acid chains, and proteins. Elliot Ackerman, WIRED, 5 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'nucleic acid.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


from their occurrence in cell nuclei

First Known Use

1892, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of nucleic acid was in 1892

Dictionary Entries Near nucleic acid

Cite this Entry

“Nucleic acid.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

nucleic acid

nu·​cle·​ic acid n(y)u̇-ˌklā-ik- How to pronounce nucleic acid (audio) -ˌklē- How to pronounce nucleic acid (audio)
: any of various acids (as DNA or RNA) composed of a chain of nucleotides and found especially in cell nuclei

Medical Definition

nucleic acid

nu·​cle·​ic acid n(y)u̇-ˌklē-ik- How to pronounce nucleic acid (audio) -ˌklā- How to pronounce nucleic acid (audio)
: any of various acids (as an RNA or a DNA) composed of nucleotide chains

More from Merriam-Webster on nucleic acid

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