radioactive decay

[ rey-dee-oh-ak-tiv di-key ]
/ ˌreɪ di oʊˈæk tɪv dɪˈkeɪ /

noun Physics.

a radioactive process in which a nucleus undergoes spontaneous transformation into one or more different nuclei and simultaneously emits radiation, loses electrons, or undergoes fission.

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Also called dis·in·te·gra·tion [dis-in-tuh-grey-shuhn] /dɪsˌɪn təˈgreɪ ʃən/ .

Origin of radioactive decay

First recorded in 1960–65
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

British Dictionary definitions for radioactive decay

radioactive decay

noun

disintegration of a nucleus that occurs spontaneously or as a result of electron capture. One or more different nuclei are formed and usually particles and gamma rays are emittedSometimes shortened to: decay Also called: disintegration
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 radioactive decay

radioactive decay
[ rā′dē-ō-ăktĭv ]

The spontaneous transformation of an unstable atomic nucleus into a lighter one, in which radiation is released in the form of alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays, and other particles. The rate of decay of radioactive substances such as carbon 14 or uranium is measured in terms of their half-life. See also decay radioisotope.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.