epi·​gen·​e·​sis | \ ˌe-pə-ˈje-nə-səs How to pronounce epigenesis (audio) \

Definition of epigenesis

1 : development of a plant or animal from an egg or spore through a series of processes in which unorganized cell masses differentiate into organs and organ systems also : the theory that plant and animal development proceeds in this way — compare preformation sense 2
2 : change in the mineral character of a rock owing to outside influences

Examples of epigenesis in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Some species, indeed, can pass this resilience on to their offspring by a process called intergenerational epigenesis. The Economist, "Mass die-offs are driving efforts to create hardier corals," 15 Mar. 2018

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

First Known Use of epigenesis

1798, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for epigenesis

borrowed from New Latin (William Harvey), from epi- epi- + genesis genesis

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Time Traveler for epigenesis

Time Traveler

The first known use of epigenesis was in 1798

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Cite this Entry

“Epigenesis.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epigenesis. Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for epigenesis


epi·​gen·​e·​sis | \ ˌep-ə-ˈjen-ə-səs How to pronounce epigenesis (audio) \
plural epigeneses\ -​ˌsēz How to pronounce epigenesis (audio) \

Medical Definition of epigenesis

1 : development involving gradual diversification and differentiation of an initially undifferentiated entity (as a zygote or spore) — compare preformation

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