bio·​di·​ver·​si·​ty ˌbī-(ˌ)ō-də-ˈvər-sə-tē How to pronounce biodiversity (audio)
: biological diversity in an environment as indicated by numbers of different species of plants and animals
biodiverse adjective

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Biodiversity may become the rallying call for the next decade, wrote David Wake in the journal Science in 1989. Indeed, biodiversity is a word you're likely to encounter in writing about ecology and the environment today. But when Wake used it, "biodiversity" was still a relatively new addition to the English language, having first appeared in writing in the mid-1980s. Of course, the roots of biodiversity are much older. It evolved from a commingling of the descendants of the Greek noun bios, which means "mode of life," and the Latin verb divertere, which means "to turn aside" or "to go different ways."

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web What’s the impact on biodiversity, and on local communities? Jonquil Hackenberg, Forbes, 9 Sep. 2021 Harley warned that losing intertidal animals like mussels could have an adverse effect on the region's biodiversity, noting that many had reported observations of die-offs up and down the continental coast. Julia Musto, Fox News, 17 July 2021 The academic also urged the Nigerian government to regulate the collection of plants in order to protect biodiversity. Fox News, 1 Nov. 2022 The humble tree is a magic solution to a set of colliding crises: Forests pull carbon dioxide from the air to slow climate change, provide habitat that supports biodiversity, and shelter our communities from heat waves and other extreme weather. Yishan Wong, Fortune, 1 Nov. 2022 Planting younger trees maintains biodiversity, but growing a forest takes generations. Quartz, 28 Oct. 2022 In addition to conserving biodiversity, marine parks can also be used as nurseries for commercial stocks of fish. Byerik Stokstad,, 20 Oct. 2022 Many images were taken by researchers from The Nat and others working to study and conserve regional biodiversity, as well as community scientists. Ernie Cowan, San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 Oct. 2022 The initiative is designed to not only help in the fight against climate change but also to safeguard America’s biodiversity by warding off massive species loss. Emily Pennington, Outside Online, 22 Sep. 2022 See More

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

Word History


bio- + diversity

First Known Use

1985, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of biodiversity was in 1985


Dictionary Entries Near biodiversity

Cite this Entry

“Biodiversity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



bio·​di·​ver·​si·​ty -də-ˈvər-sət-ē How to pronounce biodiversity (audio)
: biological variety in an environment as indicated by numbers of different species of plants and animals

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