epi·​ge·​net·​ic ˌe-pə-jə-ˈne-tik How to pronounce epigenetic (audio)
: of, relating to, or produced by the chain of developmental processes in epigenesis that lead from genotype to phenotype after the initial action of the genes
: relating to, being, or involving changes in gene function that do not involve changes in DNA sequence
epigenetic inheritance
of a deposit or structure : formed after the laying down of the enclosing rock
epigenetically adverb

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Analyses of the mice’s muscles, kidneys, and retinas suggest the cocktail reversed some of the epigenetic changes induced by the DNA breaks. Bycatherine Offord, science.org, 13 Jan. 2023 By speeding the breakage, scientists were able to induce epigenetic changes that caused the mice to quickly lose their youthful vigor, and look and act older. Robert Weisman, BostonGlobe.com, 12 Jan. 2023 Though both Kellys were expected to experience epigenetic changes over the course of the study, the sheer number of transformations still took researchers by surprise. Jake Parks, Discover Magazine, 17 Apr. 2019 The addition of methyl tags to DNA bases, called methylation, is an epigenetic change that allows some genes to be transcribed while others are not. Veronique Greenwood, Discover Magazine, 12 July 2011 Much of the research has focused on trauma, and whether epigenetic changes can be passed down from one generation to the next. Barbara Graham, Good Housekeeping, 9 Dec. 2022 Yehuda’s team created an early test that could detect such biological clues—hormonal and epigenetic changes in DNA—in blood cells. Sarah Elizabeth Richards, Men's Health, 10 Nov. 2022 Additionally, a variety of epigenetic changes (mediated, for example, by DNA methylation, histone modification and transfer of non-coding RNAs) also appear to increase with advancing maternal age (ref & ref). Grrlscientist, Forbes, 10 Oct. 2022 The blood tests also found epigenetic changes inside the monocyte immune cells after the long period of sleep deprivation. Sandee Lamotte, CNN, 27 Sep. 2022 See More

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

Word History


epi- + genetic, after epigenesis

First Known Use

1883, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of epigenetic was in 1883

Dictionary Entries Near epigenetic

Cite this Entry

“Epigenetic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epigenetic. Accessed 3 Feb. 2023.

Medical Definition


epi·​ge·​net·​ic -jə-ˈnet-ik How to pronounce epigenetic (audio)
: of, relating to, or produced by epigenesis
the epigenetic nature of vertebrate development
: relating to, being, or involving a modification in gene expression that is independent of the DNA sequence of a gene
epigenetic carcinogenesis
epigenetic inheritance
Methylation is one of many epigenetic signals—chemical changes to DNA and its associated proteins—that modify gene activity without altering the genetic information itself.Tina Hesman Saey, Science News
epigenetically adverb
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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