Etymology
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nuclear (adj.)

1841, "of or like the nucleus of a cell," from nucleus + -ar, probably by influence of French nucléaire. General sense of "central" is from 1912. In atomic physics, "of or belonging to the nucleus of an atom," from 1914; of weapons deriving their destructive power from nuclear reactions, by 1945.

Hence nuclear energy (1930), nuclear physics (1933), nuclear war (1954). Nuclear winter was coined by U.S. atmospheric scientist Richard Turco but is first attested in article by Carl Sagan in "Parade" magazine, Oct. 30, 1983. Nuclear family, originally a sociologists' term, is first attested 1949 in "Social Structure," by American anthropologist G.P. Murdock (1897-1985). Alternative adjective nucleal is recorded from 1840, probably from French.

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deterrence (n.)

1788, "act of deterring; that which deters;" see deterrent + -ence. In a Cold War context (1955), "the strategy of demonstrating the will to inflict punitive damage in hopes of convincing the enemy to refrain from an action." Out of it naturally grew the concept of assured destruction.

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denuclearize (v.)

also denuclearise, "to deprive of nuclear arms, remove nuclear weapons from," 1958; see de- + nuclear + -ize. Related: Denuclearized; denuclearization.

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nuke (n.)

short for nuclear weapon, 1959, U.S. military slang (see nuclear). The verb is attested from 1962; the slang sense of "to cook in a microwave oven" is by 1987. Related: Nuked; nuking.

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weapons of mass destruction (n.)

"nuclear, biological and chemical weapons" attested by 1946, apparently first used (in Russian) by the Soviets.

The terms "weapons of mass destruction" and "WMD" mean chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, and chemical, biological, and nuclear materials used in the manufacture of such weapons. [United States Code: Title 50, "War and National Defense," chapter 43, § 2902, 2009]
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mononuclear (adj.)

"having a single nucleus," 1866; see mono- "single" + nuclear.

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polycentric (adj.)

"having several centers or nuclear points," 1826, from poly- + -centric.

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crit 

1908, shortening of criticism; as a shortening of critical (mass, etc.) by 1957, originally among nuclear physicists.

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thermonuclear (adj.)

1938 with reference to stars, 1953 of weapons (technically only to describe the hydrogen bomb), from thermo- + nuclear.

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Chernobyl 

city in Ukraine (Ukrainian Chornobyl), from Russian chernobylnik "mugwort." Site of 1986 nuclear disaster.

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