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nucleus definition


This page has 11 definitions of nucleus in English, Dutch, Flemish, and Latin. Nucleus is a noun. Examples of how to use nucleus in a sentence are shown. Also define these 26 related words and terms: core, initial, chemistry, physics, charge, atom, proton, neutron, cytology, membrane, organelle, eukaryotic, cell, genetic, neuroanatomy, ganglion, synapse, phonetics, phonology, syllable, vowel, onset, coda, nut, kernel, and nucleus.

See also: nucléus

English nucleus definition


Borrowed from Latin nucleus (kernel, core), a diminutive of nux (nut). The earliest uses refer to the head of a comet and the kernel of a seed, both recorded in Lexicon Technicum in 1704. The sense in atomic physics was coined by English scientist Michael Faraday in 1844 in a theoretical meaning.



nucleus (plural nuclei or nucleuses)

  1. The core, central part of something, around which other elements are assembled.
  2. An initial part or version that will receive additions.
    This collection will form the nucleus of a new library.
  3. (chemistry, physics) The massive, positively charged central part of an atom, made up of protons and neutrons.
    • Chemistry definition
      The branch of natural science that deals with the composition and constitution of substances and the changes that they undergo as a consequence of alterations in the constitution of their molecules. (1 of 3 chemistry definitions)
  4. (cytology) A large membrane-enclosed organelle found in eukaryotic cells which contains genetic material.
    • Organelle definition
      A specialized structure found inside cells that carries out a specific life process (e.g. ribosomes, vacuoles).
    • Eukaryotic definition
      Having complex cells in which the genetic material is organized into membrane-bound nuclei. (1 of 2 eukaryotic definitions)
  5. (neuroanatomy) A ganglion, cluster of many neuronal bodies where synapsing occurs.
  6. (phonetics, phonology) The central part of a syllable, most commonly a vowel.
    Coordinate terms: onset, coda
    • Phonetics definition
      The study of the physical sounds of human speech, concerned with the physical properties of speech sounds (phones), and the processes of their physiological production, auditory reception, and neurophysiological perception, and their representation by written symbols.
    • Syllable definition
      A unit of human speech that is interpreted by the listener as a single sound, although syllables usually consist of one or more vowel sounds, either alone or combined with the sound of one or more consonants; a word consists of one or more syllables. (1 of 3 syllable definitions)

Derived terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Dictionary:Entry layout § Translations.


Dutch nucleus definition


Borrowed from Latin nūcleus (kernel, core), diminutive of nux (nut).



nucleus m (plural nucleussen or nuclei, diminutive nucleusje n)

  1. nucleus, core


Related terms

Latin nucleus definition

Alternative forms


A diminutive of nux (nut).




nū̆cleus m (genitive nū̆cleī); second declension

  1. (literally) (small) nut
  2. kernel
  3. (figuratively) core
  4. nucleus
    • Nucleus definition
      The core, central part of something, around which other elements are assembled. (1 of 6 nucleus definitions)


Second-declension noun.

Case Singular Plural
Nominative nū̆cleus nū̆cleī
Genitive nū̆cleī nū̆cleōrum
Dative nū̆cleō nū̆cleīs
Accusative nū̆cleum nū̆cleōs
Ablative nū̆cleō nū̆cleīs
Vocative nū̆clee nū̆cleī

Derived terms