cla·​dis·​tics klə-ˈdi-stiks How to pronounce cladistics (audio)
plural in form but singular in construction
: a system of biological taxonomy that defines taxa uniquely by shared characteristics not found in ancestral groups and uses inferred evolutionary relationships to arrange taxa in a branching hierarchy such that all members of a given taxon have the same ancestors
cladist noun
cladistic adjective
cladistically adverb

Examples of cladistics in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Biologists employ cladistics — a method that organizes species on schematic trees — to understand how life diversified over time. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, 17 Apr. 2020 Taking advantage of the latest cladistics tools, one of us (Marsh) tested that hypothesis by identifying hundreds of anatomical features present on each individual skeleton and comparing them with one another. Matthew A. Brown, Scientific American, 1 Jan. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cladistics.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1965, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of cladistics was in 1965

Dictionary Entries Near cladistics

Cite this Entry

“Cladistics.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

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