noun, plural in form but singular in construction
epi·​ge·​net·​ics | \ ˌe-pə-jə-ˈne-tiks How to pronounce epigenetics (audio) \

Definition of epigenetics

: the study of heritable changes in gene function that do not involve changes in DNA sequence

Examples of epigenetics in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web There are already several molecules targeting human epigenetics in a similar way under preclinical development or in clinical trials. Smithsonian, "Instead of Killing Bacteria, Can We Just “Turn Off” Its Ability To Cause Infections?," 14 Dec. 2017 For one, the hot new field of epigenetics has made Lysenko-like ideas fashionable. Sam Kean, The Atlantic, "The Soviet Era's Deadliest Scientist Is Regaining Popularity in Russia," 19 Dec. 2017 In an essay for Nautilus about his own impoverished upbringing, Christian Cooper cited emerging—and controversial—science about the epigenetics of poverty. Sarah Jones, New Republic, "Why Conservatives Blame Poverty on the Poor," 25 Oct. 2017 The Salk’s Joseph Ecker co-authored a study that identified a method of controlling gene activity, in the field of epigenetics, that had been observed in plants. Bradley J. Fikes, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Plants, brains, engineered networks share unifying principles," 31 July 2017

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

1942, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for epigenetics

epi- + genetics, after epigenesis and phenogenetics "developmental genetics," borrowed from German Phänogenetik, from phäno- (in Phänotypus phenotype entry 1) + Genetik genetics

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Time Traveler for epigenetics

Time Traveler

The first known use of epigenetics was in 1942

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Cite this Entry

“Epigenetics.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epigenetics. Accessed 29 Mar. 2020.

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More Definitions for epigenetics


noun plural but singular in construction
epi·​ge·​net·​ics | \ -iks How to pronounce epigenetics (audio) \

Medical Definition of epigenetics

: the study of heritable changes in gene function that do not involve changes in DNA sequence At its most basic, epigenetics is the study of changes in gene activity that do not involve alterations to the genetic code but still get passed down to at least one successive generation.— John Cloud, Time, 18 Jan. 2010 Epigenetics is the study of the chemical groups that stick to DNA and act as switches to turn genes on and off.New Scientist, 7 July 2006

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