chromosome

noun
chro·​mo·​some | \ ˈkrō-mə-ˌsōm How to pronounce chromosome (audio) , -ˌzōm\

Definition of chromosome

: any of the rod-shaped or threadlike DNA-containing structures of cellular organisms that are located in the nucleus of eukaryotes, are usually ring-shaped in prokaryotes (such as bacteria), and contain all or most of the genes of the organism also : the genetic material of a virus — compare chromatin

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Other Words from chromosome

chromosomal \ ˌkrō-​mə-​ˈsō-​məl How to pronounce chromosomal (audio) , -​ˈzō-​ \ adjective
chromosomally \ ˌkrō-​mə-​ˈsō-​mə-​lē How to pronounce chromosomally (audio) , -​ˈzō-​ \ adverb

Examples of chromosome in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Telomeres—the end caps of our chromosomes—have a complex relationship with cancer, one that science is still working to understand. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The First Results From NASA's Historic Twin Study Are Here," 11 Apr. 2019 For example, human papillomavirus, which causes nearly all cases of cervical cancers, does its dirty work by integrating its genes into the chromosomes of cervical cells, ultimately causing cancer. David P. Barash, WSJ, "‘The Tangled Tree’ Review: From Tiny Seeds," 9 Aug. 2018 But one relatively simple way ASD can happen is by duplication of part of chromosome 15. Diana Gitig, Ars Technica, "Autism involves a large-scale reduction in RNA editing," 21 Dec. 2018 Bionano’s Saphyr system detects large-scale structural variations in DNA and can be used to uncover drug targets, develop diagnostics and study changes in chromosomes, according to the company. Brian Gormley, WSJ, "Biotech Instrument Maker Bionano Genomics Bucks Trend in $20.6 Million IPO," 21 Aug. 2018 Practitioners measure things like telomeres—the protective caps on chromosomes that supposedly reveal one’s biological age—to locate the source of an ailment or those last stubborn pounds. Jancee Dunn, Vogue, "The Future of Dieting Is Here—And it Has Nothing to do With Calorie Counting," 29 Oct. 2018 The Down/Alzheimer’s link may center around having an extra copy of chromosome 21, which is what brings about characteristics of Down syndrome. Korin Miller, SELF, "10 Facts About Alzheimer's Disease You Should Know," 28 Sep. 2018 The vast majority of our DNA—the chromosomes in the nucleus of each cell—is just what you’d expect: a mix of genetic material from both mother and father. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "Plot twist: Mitochondrial DNA can come from both parents," 28 Nov. 2018 The genomic structure is the way that genes are arranged on chromosomes in each species. Darren Griffin, Scientific American, "Jurassic World: Can We Really Resurrect a Dinosaur?," 6 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chromosome.' 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 chromosome

1889, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for chromosome

borrowed from German Chromosom, from chromo- chromo- + -som -some entry 3

Note: The term Chromosom was first suggested by the German anatomist Heinrich Wilhelm Gottfried von Waldeyer-Hartz in "Ueber Karyokinese und ihre Beziehungen zu den Befruchtungsvorgängen," Archiv für mikroskopische Anatomie, Band 23 (1888), p. 27: "In ester Linier möchte ich mir jedoch den Vorschlag erlauben, diejenigen Dinge, welche soeben mit Boveri als 'chromatische Elemente' bezeichnet wurden, an denen sich einer der wichtigsten Akten der Karyokinese, die Flemming'sche Längsteilung vollzieht, mit einem besonderen terminus technicus 'Chromosomen' zu belegen. Der Name 'primäre Schleifen' passt nicht, da wir bei weitem nicht immer eine Schleifenform für diese Dinge haben. 'Chromatische Elemente' ist zu lang. Andererseits sind sie so wichtig, dass ein besonderer kürzerer Name wünschenswerth erscheint. Plattne… gebraucht den Ausdruck 'Karyosomen'; da dieser aber zu sehr an Kernkörperchen erinnert, dürfte eine andere Bezeichnung vorzuziehen sein. Ist die von mir vorgeschlagene praktisch verwendbar, so wird sie sich wohl einbürgern, sonst möge sie bald der Vergessenheit anheimfallen." ("In the first place I must allow myself to suggest a new technical term, 'chromosomes,' for those things which have been designated by Boveri 'chromatic elements,' at which one of the most important acts of karyokinesis, Flemming's longitudinal splitting, is carried out. The name 'primary loops' is not suitable, since it is by no means the case that these things always have the form of a loop. 'Chromatic elements' is too long. On the other hand, they are so important that a special shorter name seems desirable. Plattner uses the expression 'karyosomes,' but as this too readily brings to mind nucleoli, another name is to be preferred. If the name I propose is serviceable, it will become customary, otherwise it will soon pass into oblivion.")

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Last Updated

12 May 2019

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Time Traveler for chromosome

The first known use of chromosome was in 1889

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More Definitions for chromosome

chromosome

noun

English Language Learners Definition of chromosome

: the part of a cell that contains the genes which control how an animal or plant grows and what it becomes

chromosome

noun
chro·​mo·​some | \ ˈkrō-mə-ˌsōm How to pronounce chromosome (audio) \

Kids Definition of chromosome

: one of the rod-shaped or threadlike structures of a cell nucleus that contain genes and divide when the cell divides

chromosome

noun
chro·​mo·​some | \ ˈkrō-mə-ˌsōm, -ˌzōm How to pronounce chromosome (audio) \

Medical Definition of chromosome

: any of the rod-shaped or threadlike DNA-containing structures of cellular organisms that are located in the nucleus of eukaryotes, are usually ring-shaped in prokaryotes (as bacteria), and contain all or most of the genes of the organism also : the genetic material of a virus

Other Words from chromosome

chromosomal \ ˌkrō-​mə-​ˈsō-​məl, -​ˈzō-​ How to pronounce chromosomal (audio) \ adjective
chromosomally \ -​mə-​lē How to pronounce chromosomally (audio) \ adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on chromosome

Spanish Central: Translation of chromosome

Nglish: Translation of chromosome for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of chromosome for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about chromosome

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