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[noo-klee-uh-tahyd, nyoo-] /ˈnu kli əˌtaɪd, ˈnyu-/
noun, Biochemistry
any of a group of molecules that, when linked together, form the building blocks of DNA or RNA: composed of a phosphate group, the bases adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine, and a pentose sugar, in RNA the thymine base being replaced by uracil.
Origin of nucleotide
1905-10; alteration of nucleoside
Related forms
internucleotide, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for nucleotides
  • The chains form the terms double helix and nucleotides.
  • The end result is a brain that is much, much more than simply the sum of the nucleotides that encode a few thousand proteins.
  • If a gene mutates, one or more of the nucleotides in its sequence changes.
  • Each gene consists of a long strand of molecules, called nucleotides.
  • Each amino acid is genetically encoded by a string of three nucleotides, known as a codon.
  • The newer drugs, called nucleosides and nucleotides, are taken orally.
  • The other drugs are called nucleotides or nucleosides, and there are a variety of factors that go into choosing the best one.
  • But rarely is the sequence of the letters, or nucleotides, exactly the same within each pair.
  • The mono-phosphates nucleotides are all identical except for their nitrogenous bases.
  • The basic building blocks, nucleotides, would have been floating around.
British Dictionary definitions for nucleotides


(biochem) a compound consisting of a nucleoside linked to phosphoric acid. Nucleic acids are made up of long chains (polynucleotides) of such compounds
Word Origin
C20: from nucleo- + t (added for ease of pronunciation) + -ide
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 nucleotides



1908, from German nucleotid (1908), from nucleo-, modern comb. form of Latin nucleus (see nucleus) + -ide, with -t- for the sake of euphony.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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nucleotides in Medicine

nucleotide nu·cle·o·tide (nōō'klē-ə-tīd', nyōō'-)
Any of various compounds consisting of a nucleoside combined with a phosphate group and forming the basic constituent of DNA and RNA.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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nucleotides in Science
Any of a group of organic compounds composed of a nucleoside linked to a phosphate group. Nucleotides are the basic building blocks of nucleic acids.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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nucleotides in Culture
nucleotides [(nooh-klee-uh-teyedz)]

The molecules that form the basic modular structure of the double helix of the DNA molecule. A nucleotide consists of three molecules — a sugar, a phosphate group, and a molecule called a base. If the double helix is a twisted ladder, the sugar and phosphates form the sides of the ladder and pairs of bases form the rungs. There are four different bases, usually abbreviated A, C, G, and T for adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine). The order of bases in DNA determines the genetic code.

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