ap·​o·​mor·​phy ˈa-pə-ˌmȯr-fē How to pronounce apomorphy (audio)
plural apomorphies
biological taxonomy
: a specialized trait or character that is unique to a group or species : a character state (such as the presence of feathers) not present in an ancestral form
In this case, white flowers are a derived condition, an apomorphy, and red flowers are the ancestral condition.James D. Mauseth, Botany: An Introduction to Plant Biology, 2009
apomorphic adjective
or less commonly apomorph
As far as possible, it is assumed that each apomorphic evolutionary event only occurred once in the history of each group of related taxa … C. Barry Cox and Peter D. Moore, Biogeography: An Ecological and Evolutionary Approach, 2010
… such apomorph characters are believed to be found only among the descendants of the ancestor in which the character first occurred. Ernst Mayr, The Growth of Biological Thought, 1982

Word History


apomorphic or apomorphous (borrowed from German apomorph, from apo- "away from, apo-" + -morph "having such a structure, -morphous) + -y entry 2

First Known Use

1969, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of apomorphy was in 1969

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Dictionary Entries Near apomorphy

Cite this Entry

“Apomorphy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apomorphy. Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

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