radioactive waste


the radioactive by-products from the operation of a nuclear reactor or from the reprocessing of depleted nuclear fuel.

Nearby words

  1. radioactive fallout,
  2. radioactive iodine,
  3. radioactive isotope,
  4. radioactive series,
  5. radioactive tracer,
  6. radioactivity,
  7. radioallergosorbent test,
  8. radioautograph,
  9. radioautography,
  10. radiobicipital

Origin of radioactive waste

First recorded in 1945–50

Also called nuclear waste. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for radioactive waste

radioactive waste


any waste material containing radionuclidesAlso called: nuclear waste
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

Culture definitions for radioactive waste

radioactive waste

Radioactive materials that may be left after a commercial or laboratory process has been carried out. Some is “low-level” waste, such as objects that have touched the radioactive tracers used in certain medical tests. Other waste may be “high-level,” such as the material left in a nuclear reactor after the fuel has been consumed.


There has been public debate over the safest means of storing the waste, which can remain dangerously radioactive for up to hundreds of thousands of years. Present practice calls for encasing the waste in metal, concrete, and ceramic containers and burying the containers deep underground in geologically stable locations.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.