Entries linking to sub-atomic
In Latin assimilated to following -c-, -f-, -g-, -p-, and often -r- and -m-. In Old French the prefix appears in the full Latin form only "in learned adoptions of old Latin compounds" [OED], and in popular use it was represented by sous-, sou-; as in French souvenir from Latin subvenire, souscrire (Old French souzescrire) from subscribere, etc.
The original meaning is now obscured in many words from Latin (suggest, suspect, subject, etc.). The prefix is active in Modern English, sometimes meaning "subordinate" (as in subcontractor); "inferior" (17c., as in subhuman); "smaller" (18c.); "a part or division of" (c. 1800, as in subcontinent).
"pertaining to atoms," 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 ("The World Set Free"), 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 "concerned with atoms," also "very minute," is from 1640s. Atomic clock is from 1938.
updated on October 10, 2017