[ kyoor-ee, kyoo-ree ]
/ ˈkyʊər i, kyʊˈri /
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noun Physics, Chemistry.
a unit of activity of radioactive substances equivalent to 3.70 × 1010 disintegrations per second: it is approximately the amount of activity produced by 1 gram of radium-226. Abbreviation: Ci
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Origin of curie

First recorded in 1910; named in memory of Pierre Curie

Other definitions for curie (2 of 2)

[ kyoor-ee, kyoo-ree; French ky-ree ]
/ ˈkyʊər i, kyʊˈri; French küˈri /

I·rène [French ee-ren]. /French iˈrɛn/. Joliot-Curie, Irène.
Ma·rie [muh-ree; French ma-ree], /məˈri; French maˈri/, 1867–1934, Polish physicist and chemist in France: codiscoverer of radium 1898; Nobel Prize in Physics 1903, for chemistry 1911.
her husband, Pierre [pee-air; French pyer], /piˈɛər; French pyɛr/, 1859–1906, French physicist and chemist: codiscoverer of radium; Nobel Prize in Physics 1903.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use curie in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for curie (1 of 2)

/ (ˈkjʊərɪ, -riː) /

a unit of radioactivity that is equal to 3.7 × 10 10 disintegrations per secondSymbol: Ci

Word Origin for curie

C20: named after Pierre Curie

British Dictionary definitions for curie (2 of 2)

/ (ˈkjʊərɪ, -riː, French kyri) /

Marie (mari). 1867–1934, French physicist and chemist, born in Poland: discovered with her husband Pierre the radioactivity of thorium, and discovered and isolated radium and polonium. She shared a Nobel prize for physics (1903) with her husband and Henri Becquerel, and was awarded a Nobel prize for chemistry (1911)
her husband, Pierre (pjɛr). 1859–1906, French physicist and chemist
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

Scientific definitions for curie (1 of 2)

[ kyurē, kyu-rē ]

A unit used to measure the rate of radioactive decay. Radioactive decay is measured by the rate at which the atoms making up a radioactive substance are transformed into different atoms. One curie is equal to 37 billion (3.7 X 1010) of these transformations per second. Many scientists now measure radioactive decay in becquerels rather than curies.

Scientific definitions for curie (2 of 2)

Marie 1867-1934

Polish-born French chemist who pioneered research into radioactivity. Following Antoine Henri Becquerel's discovery of radioactivity, she investigated uranium with her husband, Pierre Curie (1859-1906). Together they discovered the elements radium and polonium. Marie Curie later isolated pure radium and developed the use of radioactivity in medicine.


The study of radioactivity owes much of its start and early development to Marie Curie, born Maria Skłodowska in Poland in 1867. She was exposed to science early by her father, a mathematician and physicist, and in her young adulthood she moved to Paris, where she soon met many prominent physicists, including Pierre Curie, whom she married in 1895. In 1896 Henri Becquerel discovered a new phenomenon that Curie would soon name radioactivity, and together with Pierre she discovered two new elements, polonium and radium, in 1898. For their discovery of radioactivity, the three won the 1903 Nobel Prize for physics. In 1906, after her husband died unexpectedly, she filled his vacant professorship at the Sorbonne, becoming the first woman to teach there. In 1911 she became the first person to win a second Nobel Prize (for chemistry), which she received for the isolation of pure radium. This was an important feat because, before the invention of particle accelerators, radioactivity could only be effectively studied if one had an abundant and concentrated supply of highly radioactive sources; much of her work was spent developing techniques to create such stockpiles. Curie also saw the need for such supplies in medicine. Her frequent exposure to radioactivity apparently precipitated the leukemia that took her life in 1934, but her work was continued by her daughter Irène (1897-1956), already an important nuclear physicist in her own right.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.