al·​lele | \ ə-ˈlēl How to pronounce allele (audio) \

Definition of allele

1 : any of the alternative forms of a gene that may occur at a given locus (see locus sense 3)
2 : either of a pair of alternative Mendelian characters (see character entry 1 sense 1b(3)) (such as smooth and wrinkled seed in the pea)

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Other Words from allele

allelic \ ə-​ˈlē-​lik How to pronounce allele (audio) , -​ˈle-​ \ adjective
allelism \ ə-​ˈlē-​ˌli-​zəm How to pronounce allele (audio) , -​ˈle-​ \ noun

Examples of allele in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In North Carolina and Indiana, where outbreaks had clear connections to the Biogen conference, nearly twenty per cent of samples contained the C2416T allele. Benjamin Wallace-wells, The New Yorker, "Reconstructing a Pandemic," 17 Dec. 2020 Each allele brings its individual touch to the role. Quanta Magazine, "Are Genes Selfish or Cooperative?," 14 Sep. 2017 For example, some of the archaic alleles Sankararaman spotted in Africans were in genes that suppress tumors and regulate hormones. Ann Gibbons, Science | AAAS, "Mysterious ‘ghost’ populations had multiple trysts with human ancestors," 20 Feb. 2020 Lola’s genome also contained alleles that are usually associated with the inability to produce lactase—an enzyme that’s important in digesting milk—as an adult. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Ancient “chewing gum” contains a 5,700-year-old genome," 13 Feb. 2020 Each variant has a version (more precisely, one of the alleles in a single nucleotide polymorphism) associated with a small boost to the trait in question. Charles Murray, WSJ, "Genetics Will Revolutionize Social Science," 27 Jan. 2020 The study also found that countries with higher mortality rates from H1N1 tended to have a higher frequency of HLA-A*24 alleles. Quanta Magazine, "Decoding Flu Viruses Before an Outbreak," 29 Aug. 2013 Anonymous: What are the 11% pathogenic alleles that are theoretically outside the scope of this technology? Sharon Begley, STAT, "You had questions for David Liu about CRISPR, prime editing, and advice to young scientists. He has answers," 6 Nov. 2019 Thanks to the Neanderthal and Denisovan genomes recovered from ancient bones and teeth, scientists can recognize certain alleles that belong to our extinct cousins. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Long stretches of Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA helped Homo sapiens adapt," 21 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'allele.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of allele

1921, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for allele

perhaps as back-formation from allelism, from allel- (in allelomorph) + -ism

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Cite this Entry

“Allele.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for allele


al·​lele | \ ə-ˈlē(ə)l How to pronounce allele (audio) \

Medical Definition of allele

1 : any of the alternative forms of a gene that may occur at a given locus
2 : either of a pair of alternative Mendelian characters (as ability versus inability to taste the chemical phenylthiocarbamide)

Other Words from allele

allelic \ -​ˈlē-​lik How to pronounce allele (audio) , -​ˈlel-​ik How to pronounce allele (audio) \ adjective
allelism \ -​ˈlē(ə)l-​ˌiz-​əm How to pronounce allele (audio) , -​ˈlel-​ˌiz-​ How to pronounce allele (audio) \ noun

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