epi·​ge·​net·​ics ˌe-pə-jə-ˈne-tiks How to pronounce epigenetics (audio)
plural in form but singular in construction
: 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 To Shelley Berger, an epigenetics researcher at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the NIH director’s advisory panel, de-emphasizing an applicant’s background is a mistake. Byjocelyn Kaiser, science.org, 17 Jan. 2023 Thomas Rando, director of the Broad Stem Cell Research Center at the University of California Los Angeles, has long studied the role of epigenetics in aging but wasn’t involved in the Sinclair study. Robert Weisman, BostonGlobe.com, 12 Jan. 2023 Of course, the prospects of epigenetics and its implications for human evolution are also fascinating. Saugat Bolakhe, Discover Magazine, 2 Mar. 2022 The drugs affected the voles' epigenetics by unwinding their DNA so that genes for vasopressin and oxytocin receptors were more highly transcribed. Breanna Draxler, Discover Magazine, 4 June 2013 The question has become more complex with advances in the field of epigenetics, the study of how environment can chemically modify how our DNA is expressed without actually changing our genetic code. Barbara Graham, Good Housekeeping, 9 Dec. 2022 The control of gene expression, otherwise known as epigenetics, is a fundamental process in cell biology that researchers and industry are just beginning to harness to treat human disease. Megan Molteni, STAT, 30 Sep. 2022 The discovery gave rise to epigenetics, the study of what influences gene expression and how. Rachel Yehuda, Scientific American, 18 June 2022 And all these channels seem to involve epigenetics: alterations in the way that genes function. Rachel Yehuda, Scientific American, 18 June 2022 See More

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

1942, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of epigenetics was in 1942

Dictionary Entries Near epigenetics

Cite this Entry

“Epigenetics.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epigenetics. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Medical Definition


noun, plural in form but singular in construction
epi·​ge·​net·​ics -iks How to pronounce epigenetics (audio)
: 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
Epigenetics is the study of the chemical groups that stick to DNA and act as switches to turn genes on and off.New Scientist
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