nuclear

[noo-klee-er, nyoo- or, by metathesis, -kyuh-ler]
adjective
1.
pertaining to or involving atomic weapons: nuclear war.
2.
operated or powered by atomic energy: a nuclear submarine.
3.
(of a nation or group of nations) having atomic weapons.
4.
of, pertaining to, or forming a nucleus.
5.
of, pertaining to, or like the nuclear family: nuclear bonds.
noun Informal.
6.
nuclear energy: switching to nuclear as a power source.

Origin:
1840–50; nucle(us) + -ar1; compare French nucléaire

internuclear, adjective
multinuclear, adjective
postnuclear, adjective


In pronouncing nuclear, the second and third syllables are most commonly said as [-klee-er] 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]. Since [-klee-er] the common pronunciation of ‐cle · ar, might also be represented, broadly, as [-kluh-yer] the [-kyuh-ler] pronunciation can be seen as coming from a process of metathesis, in which the [l] and the [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.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
nuclear (ˈnjuːklɪə)
 
adj
1.  of, concerned with, or involving the nucleus of an atom: nuclear fission
2.  biology of, relating to, or contained within the nucleus of a cell: a nuclear membrane
3.  of, relating to, forming, or resembling any other kind of nucleus
4.  of, concerned with, or operated by energy from fission or fusion of atomic nuclei: a nuclear weapon
5.  involving, concerned with, or possessing nuclear weapons: nuclear war; a nuclear strike

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

nuclear
1846, "of or like the nucleus of a cell," from nucleus (q.v.), probably by influence of Fr. 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 (18971985).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

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

  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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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
nuclear   (n'klē-ər)  Pronunciation Key 
  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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Example sentences
Alarmism about nuclear proliferation has become common coin in the
  foreign-policy establishment.
Computers crashing worldwide, nuclear warheads being launched, boom boom pow.
It should be worried about the world's cadre of nuclear scientists.
Nuclear energy is considered by many people to be the only realistic
  alternative to fossil fuel to power our civilization.
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