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[noo-klee-er, nyoo- or, by metathesis, -kyuh-ler] /ˈnu kli ər, ˈnyu- or, by metathesis, -kyə lər/
pertaining to or involving atomic weapons:
nuclear war.
operated or powered by atomic energy:
a nuclear submarine.
(of a nation or group of nations) having atomic weapons.
of, relating to, or forming a nucleus.
of, relating to, or like the nuclear family:
nuclear bonds.
noun, Informal.
nuclear energy:
switching to nuclear as a power source.
Origin of nuclear
1840-50; nucle(us) + -ar1; compare French nucléaire
Related forms
internuclear, adjective
multinuclear, adjective
postnuclear, adjective
Pronunciation note
In pronouncing nuclear, the second and third syllables are most commonly said as
[-klee-er] /-kli ər/ (Show IPA)
a sequence of sounds that directly reflects the spelled sequence ‐cle · ar. In recent years, a somewhat controversial pronunciation has come to public attention, with these two final syllables said as
[-kyuh-ler] /-kyə lər/ .
[-klee-er] /-kli ər/
the common pronunciation of ‐cle · ar, might also be represented, broadly, as
[-kluh-yer] /-klə yər/
[-kyuh-ler] /-kyə lər/
pronunciation can be seen as coming from a process of metathesis, in which the [l] /l/ and the [y] /y/ change places. The resulting pronunciation is reinforced by analogy with such words as molecular, particular, and muscular, and although it occurs with some frequency among highly educated speakers, including scientists, professors, and government officials, it is disapproved of by many. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for post-nuclear


of, concerned with, or involving the nucleus of an atom: nuclear fission
(biology) of, relating to, or contained within the nucleus of a cell: a nuclear membrane
of, relating to, forming, or resembling any other kind of nucleus
of, concerned with, or operated by energy from fission or fusion of atomic nuclei: a nuclear weapon
involving, concerned with, or possessing nuclear weapons: nuclear war, a nuclear strike
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for post-nuclear



1846, "of or like the nucleus of a cell," from nucleus + -ar, probably by influence of French nucléaire. Use in atomic physics is from 1914; of weapons, from 1945. Hence nuclear physics (1933), nuclear energy (1941), nuclear war (1954). Nuclear winter coined by Richard Turco, but first attested in article by Carl Sagan in "Parade" magazine, Oct. 30, 1983. General sense of "central" is from 1912. Nuclear family, originally a sociologists' term, is first attested 1949 in "Social Structure," by American anthropologist G.P. Murdock (1897-1985). Alternative adjective nucleal is recorded from 1840.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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post-nuclear in Medicine

nuclear nu·cle·ar (nōō'klē-ər, nyōō'-)

  1. Of or forming a nucleus.

  2. Of or relating to atomic nuclei.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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post-nuclear in Science
  1. Relating to or forming a cell nucleus.

  2. Relating to atomic nuclei.

  3. Using energy derived from the nuclei of atoms through fission or fusion reactions.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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