atomics n. 1

any device powered by nuclear energy, esp. a nuclear-powered engine


  • 1932 J. W. Campbell Electronic Siege in Wonder Stories Apr. 1247/2 page image John W. Campbell, Jr. bibliography

    The slim, graceful ship rose smoothly into the atmosphere…as the gentle hum of mighty Farrel Atomics poured their millions of horsepower into the McKinley space-drive discs.

  • 1944 C. D. Simak Huddling Place in Astounding Science-Fiction July 137/1 page image Clifford D. Simak bibliography

    Webster smiled at the fireplace with its blazing wood…. Useless because atomic heating was better—but more pleasant. One couldn’t sit and watch atomics and dream and build castles in the flames.

  • 1952 C. Oliver Blood's a Rover in Astounding Science-Fiction May 17/2 page image Chad Oliver bibliography

    The two men fell silent then, looking at the neat brown rows of sacks, feeling the star ship tremble slightly under them with the thunder of her great atomics.

  • 1954 W. M. Miller Way of a Rebel in Worlds of If Apr. 42/1 page image Walter M. Miller, Jr. bibliography

    He stood…feeling his small sub rocking gently in the calm sea, listening to the quiet purr of the atomics beneath him.

  • 1972 M. Z. Bradley Darkover Landfall (1987) 10 Marion Zimmer Bradley bibliography

    There evidently wasn’t a leak in the atomics after all—that girl from Comm checked out with no radiation burns.

Research requirements

antedating 1932

Earliest cite

J.W. Campbell, in Wonder Stories

Research History
We would like later examples from any sources; this use was extremely common in the 1940s through the 1960s.

Last modified 2020-12-16 04:08:47
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.