See also: ñuke



Etymology 1Edit

Clipping of nuclear weapon.[1] The verb is derived from the noun.[2]


nuke (plural nukes) (chiefly US, colloquial)

  1. A nuclear weapon.
    • 1974 January, Lloyd Norman, “The Reluctant Dragon: NATO’s Fears and the Need for New Nuclear Weapons”, in L. James Binder, editor, Army, volume 24, number 1, Washington, D.C.: Association of the United States Army, OCLC 848280385, page 16:
      "Mini-nukes" are "among the active unresolved nuclear issues in NATO at the moment," according to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff report. [] Mini-nukes, the report said, are the "new generation of tactical nuclear weapons which combine low and variable yield possibilities with enhanced radiation characteristics and which could be used with artillery and laser-guided or other 'smart' bombs."
    • [1975 September, William Epstein, “Failure at the NPT Review Conference”, in Samuel H. Day, Jr., editor, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: A Magazine of Science and Public Affairs, volume XXXI, number 7, Chicago, Ill.: Educational Foundation for Nuclear Scence, ISSN 1938-3282, OCLC 67091559, page 46, column 2:
      The world has witnessed the first confrontation between the ‘nukes’ and the ‘non-nukes’ [i.e., countries possessing and not possessing nuclear weapons]. Although only a political one, this confrontation at the Review Conference of the Parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which took place last May in Geneva, portends serious trouble ahead.]
    • 1992, William Chaloupka, “Knowing Nukes”, in Knowing Nukes: The Politics and Culture of the Atom, Minneapolis, Minn.: University of Minneapolis Press, →ISBN, page 1:
      For citizens of nuclear states, nukes are the metaphor for success and failure, the constraints for experimentation, the analogy for all other "problems." Nonetheless, these same citizens seem reluctant to take nukes so seriously.
    • 2001, Skip Woods, Swordfish, spoken by Gabriel Shear (John Travolta):
      I can buy nukes on the black market for $40 million each.
  2. (by extension) Something that destroys or negates, especially on a catastrophic scale.
  3. A nuclear power station.
    • 1979, Anna Gyorgy [et al.], “Atomic Power, Nuclear Plants”, in No Nukes: Everyone’s Guide to Nuclear Power (Black Rose Books; no. I.49), Montreal, Que.: Black Rose Books, →ISBN, page 406:
      Confronted with the threat of several nukes on the island, we soon realized that the Long Island Sound is being used as a massive cooling basin for nuclear reactors.
    • 2002, Home Power - Issues 86-91, page 121:
      Nukes Don't Pollute
    • 2010, Andrew Nikiforuk, Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent, page 155:
      He calculates that nukes might be needed to power energy-intensive “large scale co2 sequestration techniques” as well.
    • 2010, Ben Coes, Power Down:
      We've analyzed employee manifests at all nukes, LNG, and refineries in the United States for Middle Eastern profile matches.
  4. (nautical) A vessel such as a ship or submarine running on nuclear power.
    • 2006, Dan Gillcrist, “Apples and Oranges”, in Power Shift: The Transition to Nuclear Power in the U.S. Submarine Force as Told by Those Who Did It, Lincoln, Neb.: iUniverse, →ISBN, page 145:
      A nuke [nuclear submarine] can't survive with one flooded compartment. Any compartment that floods is going to kill you. Okay? Now, that's an acceptable risk because the nuclear hull is made of better steel. If a surface ship hits a nuclear submarine, the surface ship is going to sink, which we've demonstrated again and again. [...] In a nuke you come to periscope depth once a day, every two days.
  5. A person (such as a sailor in a navy or a scientist) who works with nuclear weapons or nuclear power.
    • 1991 summer, Grady Wells, “Getting Under Way with Navy Nukes”, in Tyrone D. Taborn, editor, US Black Engineer, volume 15, number 3, Baltimore, Md.: Career Communications Group, ISSN 1058-2428, OCLC 950874271, page 29:
      But nowhere in our military services is there a more highly trained, more qualified group of officers than the Navy's nuclear power officers – Navy nukes. The responsibilities the Navy's 4,300 nukes have to assume – procuring, testing, operating, and maintaining our nuclear-powered fleet – require a much deeper level of understanding than is necessary in the other services.
  6. (warez) A cautionary flag placed on a release to label it as "bad" for some reason or another (e.g., being a dupe of a previous release or containing malware).
    • 2009 June 12, TEAM FILEnetworks, “Scene NukeWars : Funniest nuke reasons ever”, in FILEnetworks Blog[1], archived from the original on 23 March 2021, retrieved 23 March 2021:
      A nuke based on non existent rules or made up reasons can be undone – this is called and[sic] un-nuke.
  7. (rare) A microwave oven.
    Just put it in the nuke for two minutes and it will be ready to eat.
    • 1986, Christine Brooke-Rose, Xorandor, page 113:
      Three, my brothers that were taken elsewhere shall also be fed, in like manner, not from your nuke garbage but from your best food.
    • 1997, Joe Clifford Faust, Handling it: how I got rich and famous, made media stars out of common street scum and almost got the girl, →ISBN:
      I let my eyes wander, imagining that I was inside, wandering through, opening the fridge, checking out the nuke and macrowave[sic], cranking the handles to see if the water flowed, palming light switches, opening cupboards, ...
    • 2009, Nate Stansfield, SOLVED: Light comes on and turntable spins. It sounds like it is working byt no heat.:
      To replace the entire unit would be my best advice, to repair it costs more than just money, you also have to hassle with the repair people and lose out on time not having your 'nuke'.
    • 2010, M. Scott Kelley, Rose City Demise, →ISBN, page 58:
      The done bell on the nuke went off. In my book, next-day pizza is one of the best leftovers around, especially when accompanied by the lone survivor of a six-pack of Sam Adams special.
Derived termsEdit


nuke (third-person singular simple present nukes, present participle nuking, simple past and past participle nuked)

  1. (transitive, chiefly US, colloquial) To use a nuclear weapon on a target.
    If a nuclear war ever breaks out, military facilities are likely to be nuked first.
    • 1987, Robert R[ick] McCammon, chapter 15, in Swan Song (Pocket Books; 62413.X), New York, N.Y.: Pocket Books, →ISBN:
      Okay, listen to me: We've been nuked. The whole fucking country's been nuked. I don't know how many are dead in here, but we're alive, and so is Colonel Macklin.
    • 2004 May, John Dalmas, chapter 43, in The Regiment: A Trilogy (Baen Books Megabook), New York, N.Y.: Baen Publishing Enterprises, →ISBN:
      Nor was nuking a solution. Kargh would never forgive nuking a planet in other than defense of the Faith. While on another level, nuking might easily bring about a hatred of the Empire that would make the conversation and rule of this sector very difficult. No, nuking was another way to earn a place on the palace wall, decorating a long iron stake.
    • 2017 October 27, Antonia Fraser; Harold Pinter, “The US president nukes the world: read Harold Pinter’s newly discovered play”, in Katharine Viner, editor, The Guardian[2], London: Guardian News & Media, ISSN 0261-3077, OCLC 229952407, archived from the original on 3 June 2019:
      Listen, I've said it once and I'll [say] it just one more time. Nuke London. This is a Presidential Decree. [...] O London is not in France. Paris is in France. Paris is the capital of France. / P I thought Paris was the capital of England. / O France. / P You mean I'm nuking the wrong place? / O Afraid. So. / P Call Charley. Tell him I revoke the order. [...] (To P) London is being nuked at this very moment.
    • 2017 November 30, Dani Di Placido, “‘South Park’ Review: History Repeats Itself in ‘Super Hard PCness’”, in Forbes[3], New York, N.Y.: Forbes, Inc., ISSN 0015-6914, OCLC 1088420850, archived from the original on 30 November 2017:
      Eventually, Kylie joins forces with Garrison-Trump, who is attracted to the concept of annihilating a perceived enemy, and nukes the city of Toronto into dust.
  2. (transitive, chiefly US, colloquial, figuratively) To destroy or erase completely.
    Synonyms: annihilate, devastate, obliterate; see also Thesaurus:destroy
    To try to hide his posting history on Usenet, he had his posts nuked from the Google archives.
    • 2006 September 7, Glen Martin, “Eureka! New tallest living Thing discovered / THE CHAMPION: At 378.1 feet, Hyperion in Redwood National Park on North Coast towers 8 feet above Stratosphere Giant”, in San Francisco Chronicle[4], San Francisco, Calif.: Hearst Communications, ISSN 1932-8672, OCLC 66652554, archived from the original on 14 June 2019:
      The find is all the more remarkable, [George] Koch said, because the trees are in a tract added to the park belatedly, during President Jimmy Carter's administration. "They aren't all that far from an old clear-cut," he said. "Basically, they were almost nuked. The fact that they weren't is amazing."
    • 2010 September 28, Annalee Newitz, “Why do We Keep Falling in Love with Cyborgs?”, in io9[5], archived from the original on 16 June 2019:
      Cyborg romance is the flip side of the robot uprising. Our mechanical creations love us instead of nuking us from orbit. The fantasy here isn't about making it with a hot fembot. It's about wanting approval from our children, wanting them to grow up without obliterating us.
    • 2018 August 3, Tom Crystal, “Lauren Southern says ‘Melbourne should be nuked’”, in The Australian[6], Surry Hills, N.S.W.: News Corp Australia, ISSN 1038-8761, OCLC 226361953:
      Conservative Canadian commentator Lauren Southern apparently has few fond memories of her time in Melbourne, cheekily suggesting the city "should be nuked". [...] "You know that old tale in the bible where Abraham is talking to god about Sodom and Gomorrah. He's like begging with god and says 'god, if I can find ten good people in Sodom and Gomorrah, please, do not nuke Melbourne.' We did find a few hundred good ones there – there is a silent majority I believe in Melbourne so we can't nuke it yet guys I'm sorry."
    • 2019 March 25, Tiana Lowe, “How the Russia #Resistance nuked the Never Trump movement”, in Washington Examiner[7], Washington, D.C.: MediaDC, Clarity Media Group, ISSN 2641-094X, OCLC 962736160, archived from the original on 25 March 2019:
      Yes, the Democratic Party's sharp leftward pivot might have nuked the Never Trump movement all on its own, because it is leaving no sane alternatives to [Donald] Trump.
    1. (Wikimedia Commons jargon) to completely delete all uploads of an user, usually due to copyright violations or vandalism
  3. (transitive, Internet slang, by extension) To carry out a denial-of-service attack against (an IRC user).
    • 2009 July 14, Lucian Constantin, “Master Control Server for Mydoom DDoS Botnet Tracked to UK: Security Experts Stress that North Korea’s Involvement in the Attacks is Unlikely”, in Softpedia News[8], archived from the original on 9 May 2016:
      The command and control servers used by the Mydoom variant, responsible for the recent denial of service attacks against Korean and US government websites, receive instructions from a master server located in the UK. [...] Apparently, the decision of whoever was responsible to damage the infected systems after July 10 pointed [Roger] Thompson in this direction. "Why bother nuking 60k computers after doing all the work of assembling them? Nuking them only helps the Good Guys, because the victims are forced to re-build, and therefore clean, their computers. [..."]
  4. (transitive, chiefly US, colloquial) To expose to some form of radiation.
  5. (transitive, chiefly US, colloquial) To cook in a microwave oven.
    I’ll nuke some pizza for dinner.
    • 1992, Lora Brody, “Welcome to Your Kitchen”, in The Kitchen Survival Guide: A Hand-holding Kitchen Primer with 130 Recipes to Get You Started, New York, N.Y.: William Morrow and Company, →ISBN, page 15:
      If you've picked up a secondhand one, you should invest $4.00 for a microwave leak tester. The one I have has a little smiley face and a little frowning face. If the smiley face lights up when you pass it in front of the turned-on microwave, then you can nuke with impunity.
    • 2012, Janice Kay Johnson, chapter 1, in No Matter What (Harlequin Super Romance; 1807), Don Mills, Ont.,: Harlequin, →ISBN:
      Dad had just slapped dinner on the table—a frozen lasagna nuked in the microwave, salad from a bag and presliced garlic bread, also nuked.
  6. (transitive, warez) To flag a release as bad for some reason or another (for instance, due to being a dupe of an earlier release or containing malware).
    • 2009 June 12, TEAM FILEnetworks, “Scene NukeWars : Funniest nuke reasons ever”, in FILEnetworks Blog[9], archived from the original on 23 March 2021, retrieved 23 March 2021:
      When a release is not in accordance with rules, it can be made invalid. This is calling ‘nuking’. A nuke based on non existent rules or made up reasons can be undone – this is called and[sic] un-nuke. If the same release is getting nuked and un-nuked multiple times, it’s referred to as a Nukewar. When a release is nuked or un nuked[sic], reason for the action is usually mentioned along with the nuke announcement.
  7. (transitive, US, nautical, colloquial) To over-analyze or overly despair over something.
Derived termsEdit

Etymology 2Edit

Clipping of nuc(leus)


nuke (plural nukes)

  1. Alternative spelling of nuc (nucleus colony of bees)
    • 1950, Modern Beekeeping, Paducah, Ky.: Walter T. Kelley, OCLC 441687595, page 157:
      As a further experiment, I placed a very weak over-wintered nuke over the queenless colony. In bee strength, this little nuke was not half as strong.
    • 1989, Vern L. Marble, “Pollination”, in Fodders for the Near East: Alfalfa (FAO Plant Protection and Production Paper; 97/1), Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, →ISBN, page 110:
      Small new hives with a queen and a few worker bees, commonly called "nukes" are not suitable for pollination purposes [...]. New colonies should be developed before they are brought to the alfalfa seed field [...].
    • 2012, Ray V. Herren, “The Honeybee Industry”, in The Science of Animal Agriculture, 4th edition, Clifton Park, N.Y.: Delmar, Cengage Learning, →ISBN, page 195:
      The first new queen to emerge from the cell may kill the other queens before they can emerge. The producer must be present when the new queens emerge to separate them from the nuke before all of the other new queens are killed.

Etymology 3Edit

See nucha.[3]


nuke (plural nukes)

  1. (anatomy, obsolete) Alternative form of nucha (spinal cord; nape of the neck)
    • 1836 February, T. C., “On Phrenology, Craniology, Organology”, in Daniel K. Whitaker, editor, The Southern Literary Journal, and Monthly Magazine, volume 1, number 6, Charleston, S.C.: Printed by J. S. Burges, [], OCLC 22777040, page 399:
      The organ of amativeness is placed in the nuke of the neck as a protuberance of the cerebellum.
    • [2015, Charles Hodgson, Carnal Knowledge: A Navel Gazer's Dictionary of Anatomy, Etymology, and Trivia[10], →ISBN, page 115:
      Historically, other words have been used to refer to this place on the body: hattrel, niddick, noddle, noll, nuke, and poll; all have passed out of use.]

Etymology 4Edit

See nook.[4]


nuke (plural nukes)

  1. (chiefly Northern England, archaic) Alternative form of nook (a corner of a piece of land; an angled piece of land, especially one extending into other land)
    • 1777, Joseph Nicolson; Richard Burn, “[Appendix.] No. XXVIII. Penrith Boundary on the Side of Caterlen.”, in The History and Antiquities of the Counties of Westmorland and Cumberland. [...] In Two Volumes, volume II, London: Printed for W[illiam] Strahan; and T[homas] Cadell, [], OCLC 1018389832, pages 546–547:
      The ancient bounds of the cow paſture of Penrith, [...] and then from the ſaid Old Dyke end, alongſt Plumpton Dyke Eaſt over Petterel unto Plumpton park nuke, otherwiſe called Plumpton nuke; [...]
    • 1827, John Hodgson, “Morpeth Deanery”, in A History of Northumberland, in Three Parts, part II, volume I, Newcastle upon Tyne: Printed by Edw[ard] Walker, for J[ohn] B[owyer] Nichols, [et al.], OCLC 23438627, footnote b, page 2:
      The bounder beginneth at the east nuke of the Carter, and from thence extendeth eastward upon the height of the edge to Robscleugh Score, and from thence to Phillip's cross, so to the Spittopnuke, from thence to Greenlaw, so to the height of the Brown Hartlaw, and from thence along the high street to the nuke of the Blakelaw, and from thence to Hemmier's Well, where Ridsdale and Cookdale meet, all weh is a bounder against Scotland.


  1. ^ Compare “nuke, n.2 and adj.”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2003; “nuke”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.
  2. ^ nuke, v.”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2003
  3. ^ Compare “† nuke, n.1”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2003
  4. ^ Compare “nọ̄k, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 16 June 2019; “nook, n.”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2003; “nook”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.

Further readingEdit