sub·​crit·​i·​cal ˌsəb-ˈkri-ti-kəl How to pronounce subcritical (audio)
: less or lower than critical in respect to a specified factor
: of insufficient size to sustain a chain reaction
a subcritical mass of fissionable material
: designed for use with fissionable material of subcritical mass
a subcritical reactor

Examples of subcritical in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The original uranium and graphite used by Dr. Enrico Fermi and his associates in the world's first nuclear reactor have been used in this exponential assembly or subcritical reactor constructed at Argonne National Laboratory, circa 1956. Angie Leventis Lourgos, Chicago Tribune, 2 Aug. 2023 In a subcritical network, the connections are so weak that very few neurons are coupled together, so only a few small assemblies can form. John M. Beggs, Quanta Magazine, 31 Jan. 2023 If the brain were extremely subcritical, according to Beggs, incoming signals would get damped and have no impact. Jennifer Ouellette, Quanta Magazine, 14 June 2018 Priesemann suggests that the brain is slightly subcritical. Jennifer Ouellette, Quanta Magazine, 14 June 2018 Similarly, Viola Priesemann of the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Gottingen has argued that the brain operates in a slightly subcritical zone. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 7 June 2019 These refer to experiments involving a subcritical mass of nuclear materials that allow scientists to examine the performance and safety of weapons without triggering a nuclear chain reaction and explosion. Kim Tong-Hyung, The Seattle Times, 13 May 2018 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1823, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of subcritical was in 1823

Dictionary Entries Near subcritical

Cite this Entry

“Subcritical.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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