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[uh-tom-ik] /əˈtɒm ɪk/
of, pertaining to, resulting from, or using atoms, atomic energy, or atomic bombs:
an atomic explosion.
propelled or driven by atomic energy:
an atomic submarine.
Chemistry. existing as free, uncombined atoms.
extremely minute.
Also, atomical.
1670-80; atom + -ic
Related forms
atomically, adverb
nonatomic, adjective
nonatomical, adjective
nonatomically, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for atomic
  • They were stridently anti-nuclear: the monster emerged after an atomic explosion.
  • There are extreme measures occurring all over the globe to silence the outcry against nuclear and its atomic lies.
  • The wisdom of experience was useless in the atomic era, because no one had ever participated in a nuclear exchange.
  • Much of his early work centered on atomic energy, and he opposed both nuclear and coal-fired plants.
  • Tells about how atomic energy is released in a nuclear reactor.
  • Gave me his word they were not building an atomic or nuclear bomb.
  • Nuclear reactors generate energy through fission, the process by which an atomic nucleus splits into two or more smaller nuclei.
  • But while those countries recoil from atomic energy, others are committing to a nuclear future.
  • Tiny atomic reactors have energized the nuclear industry.
  • Nanotechnology is the study of the control of matter on an atomic and molecular scale.
British Dictionary definitions for atomic


of, using, or characterized by atomic bombs or atomic energy: atomic warfare
of, related to, or comprising atoms: atomic hydrogen
extremely small; minute
(logic) (of a sentence, formula, etc) having no internal structure at the appropriate level of analysis. In predicate calculus, Fa is an atomic sentence and Fx an atomic predicate
Derived Forms
atomically, adverb
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 atomic

1670s as a philosophical term (see atomistic); scientific sense dates from 1811, from atom + -ic. Atomic number is from 1821; atomic mass is from 1848. Atomic energy first recorded 1906 in modern sense (as intra-atomic energy from 1903).

March, 1903, was an historic date for chemistry. It is, also, as we shall show, a date to which, in all probability, the men of the future will often refer as the veritable beginning of the larger powers and energies that they will control. It was in March, 1903, that Curie and Laborde announced the heat-emitting power of radium. [Robert Kennedy Duncan, "The New Knowledge," 1906]
Atomic bomb first recorded 1914 in writings of H.G. Wells, who thought of it as a bomb "that would continue to explode indefinitely."
When you can drop just one atomic bomb and wipe out Paris or Berlin, war will have become monstrous and impossible. [S. Strunsky, "Yale Review," January 1917]
Atomic Age is from 1945. Atomical is from 1640s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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atomic in Science
  1. Relating to an atom or to atoms.

  2. Employing nuclear energy.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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atomic in Technology
(From Greek "atomos", indivisible) Indivisible; cannot be split up.
For example, an instruction may be said to do several things "atomically", i.e. all the things are done immediately, and there is no chance of the instruction being half-completed or of another being interspersed. Used especially to convey that an operation cannot be interrupted.
An atomic data type has no internal structure visible to the program. It can be represented by a flat domain (all elements are equally defined). Machine integers and Booleans are two examples.
An atomic database transaction is one which is guaranteed to complete successfully or not at all. If an error prevents a partially-performed transaction from proceeding to completion, it must be "backed out" to prevent the database being left in an inconsistent state.
[Jargon File]
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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