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Nucleus vs. Nuclei: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Nucleus is the singular term for the central part of an atom or cell, while nuclei is the plural form, referring to multiple centers.
Nucleus vs. Nuclei

Key Differences

The nucleus is a singular noun that refers to the central and most important part of an object, movement, or group, forming the basis for its activity and growth. In biology, it is the membrane-bound structure in a cell that contains the chromosomes.
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Nuclei, the plural of nucleus, signifies more than one such central part. When biologists discuss multiple cells, they examine the nuclei to understand the cells' genetic information.
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In physics, the term nucleus refers to the positively charged central core of an atom, which contains protons and neutrons. Discussing the interaction between multiple atoms involves the consideration of their individual nuclei.
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The nucleus can also refer metaphorically to a central or pivotal point around which other things are gathered or grouped. Similarly, nuclei would be used if there are multiple central points or groups.
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Both nucleus and nuclei are Latin-derived words. Nucleus is used when referring to just one core or center, whereas nuclei are invoked to describe multiple cores or centers.
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Comparison Chart

Number

Singular
Plural
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Definition

Central part of an atom or cell
Multiple central parts of atoms or cells
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Usage in a Sentence

Refers to one object or point
Refers to multiple objects or points
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In Biology

Refers to a single cell’s center
Refers to centers of multiple cells
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In Physics

Describes the core of a single atom
Describes the cores of multiple atoms
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Nucleus and Nuclei Definitions

Nucleus

The nucleus can refer to a group's central and most important part or leader.
She was considered the nucleus of the research team.
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Nuclei

Nuclei are the central parts of atoms, each containing protons and neutrons.
Atoms are made up of electrons orbiting around their nuclei.
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Nucleus

The nucleus is the central part of an atom containing protons and neutrons.
The nucleus contains most of an atom's mass.
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Nuclei

In astronomy, nuclei are the solid cores found in multiple comets.
The space probe was designed to collect samples from the nuclei of several comets.
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Nucleus

A central or essential part around which other parts are gathered or grouped; a core
The nucleus of a city.
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Nuclei

Nuclei may also mean the central or most important parts of multiple objects.
These ancient monuments are the nuclei of the town's tourism.
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Nucleus

Something regarded as a basis for future development and growth; a kernel
A few paintings that formed the nucleus of a great art collection.
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Nuclei

Nuclei can refer to several groups' central parts or leaders.
The nuclei of various community groups met to discuss the issue.
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Nucleus

(Biology) A membrane-bound organelle within a eukaryotic cell that contains most of the cell's genetic material. DNA transcription takes place in the nucleus.
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Nuclei

In biology, nuclei are the organelles in multiple cells that contain chromosomes.
All of the cells in the sample had prominent nuclei.
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Nucleus

(Anatomy) A group of specialized nerve cells or a localized mass of gray matter in the brain or spinal cord.
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Nuclei

A plural of nucleus.
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Nucleus

(Physics) The positively charged central region of an atom, composed of protons and neutrons, about which negatively charged electrons orbit. Extremely small and dense, the nucleus contains almost all of the mass of an atom.
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Nucleus

(Chemistry) A group of atoms bound in a structure, such as a benzene ring, that is resistant to alteration in chemical reactions.
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Nucleus

The central, often brightest part of the head of a comet.
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Nucleus

The solid part of a comet, composed of ice and smaller amounts of dust and rock.
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Nucleus

The central, often brightest part of a galaxy.
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Nucleus

(Meteorology) A particle on which water vapor molecules accumulate in free air to form a droplet or ice crystal.
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Nucleus

(Linguistics) The part of a syllable having the greatest sonority. In the word middlemost (mĭdl-mōst′) the nuclei of the three syllables are (ĭ), (l), and (ō); in the Czech word krk ("neck"), the nucleus is (r).
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Nucleus

The core, central part of something, around which other elements are assembled.
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Nucleus

An initial part or version that will receive additions.
This collection will form the nucleus of a new library.
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Nucleus

The massive, positively charged central part of an atom, made up of protons and neutrons. Category:en:Nuclear physics
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Nucleus

(cytology) A large membrane-enclosed organelle found in eukaryotic cells which contains genetic material.
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Nucleus

(neuroanatomy) A ganglion, cluster of many neuronal bodies where synapsing occurs.
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Nucleus

The central part of a syllable, most commonly a vowel.
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Nucleus

A kernel; hence, a central mass or point about which matter is gathered, or to which accretion is made; the central or material portion; - used both literally and figuratively.
It must contain within itself a nucleus of truth.
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Nucleus

The body or the head of a comet.
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Nucleus

An incipient ovule of soft cellular tissue.
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Nucleus

A body, usually spheroidal, in a eukaryotic cell, distinguished from the surrounding protoplasm by a difference in refrangibility and in behavior towards chemical reagents, which contains the chromosomal genetic material, including the chromosomal DNA. It is more or less protoplasmic, and consists of a clear fluid (achromatin) through which extends a network of fibers (chromatin) in which may be suspended a second rounded body, the nucleolus (see Nucleoplasm). See Cell division, under Division.
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Nucleus

The tip, or earliest part, of a univalve or bivalve shell.
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Nucleus

A part of the cell containing DNA and RNA and responsible for growth and reproduction
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Nucleus

The positively charged dense center of an atom
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Nucleus

A small group of indispensable persons or things;
Five periodicals make up the core of their publishing program
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Nucleus

(astronomy) the center of the head of a comet; consists of small solid particles of ice and frozen gas that vaporizes on approaching the sun to form the coma and tail
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Nucleus

Any histologically identifiable mass of neural cell bodies in the brain or spinal cord
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Nucleus

In biology, a nucleus is the organelle in eukaryotic cells that holds genetic material.
The cell's nucleus was clearly visible under the microscope.
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Nucleus

In astronomy, the nucleus refers to the solid core of a comet.
The comet's nucleus was composed of dust and frozen gases.
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Nucleus

The nucleus can also mean the central or most important part of an object.
The historical district was the nucleus of the city's development.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

How are nucleus and nuclei related?

Nucleus is the singular form, while nuclei is the plural form, referring to more than one nucleus.
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What does the nucleus of an atom consist of?

The nucleus of an atom consists of protons and neutrons.
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Are nuclei only found in biology?

No, nuclei are also found in physics, referring to the centers of atoms.
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What is the nucleus in a cell?

The nucleus is the organelle in eukaryotic cells that contains genetic material.
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What is the plural of nucleus in English?

The plural of nucleus is nuclei.
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What's the role of the nucleus in a cell?

The nucleus controls cell activities and contains DNA.
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Can nucleus and nuclei be used interchangeably?

No, they cannot; nucleus is singular, nuclei is plural.
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What is inside the nuclei of cells?

The nuclei of cells contain the cell's chromosomes.
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Is it correct to say a comet has multiple nucleus?

No, you would say a comet has multiple nuclei.
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Can a molecule have multiple nuclei?

Yes, molecules with more than one atom have multiple nuclei.
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Do all comets have nuclei?

Yes, all comets have a nucleus, and collectively they are referred to as nuclei.
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Do all cells have a nucleus?

No, only eukaryotic cells have a nucleus; prokaryotic cells do not.
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Can an atom have more than one nucleus?

No, an atom has only one nucleus.
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Does the nucleus have a membrane?

Yes, in cells, the nucleus is surrounded by a nuclear membrane.
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Are the terms nucleus and nuclei Latin?

Yes, both terms originate from Latin.
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In physics, what forces hold the nucleus together?

The strong nuclear force holds the nucleus together.
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Are nuclei visible under a microscope?

Yes, in cells, nuclei are often visible under a microscope.
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How do nucleus and nuclei differ grammatically?

Nucleus is singular, while nuclei is its plural counterpart.
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Can the term nuclei refer to a metaphorical center?

Yes, nuclei can metaphorically refer to central points of ideas or activities.
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What is the function of nuclei in neurons?

Nuclei in neurons organize and regulate brain function and activity.
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Nov 08, 2023

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Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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