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 Bacterial epigenetics is an excellent focus for antibiotic development, Jakob says, because its mechanisms are shared across many bacteria species—but use fundamentally different proteins than eukaryotic cells do. Carrie Arnold, Scientific American, 30 Mar. 2022 These studies are a major step in understanding bacterial epigenetics, says University of Leiden biochemist Remus Dame, who was not involved in either study. Carrie Arnold, Scientific American, 30 Mar. 2022 There are chapters on the development of genetics, the eugenics movement, the heritability of family traits and the field of epigenetics, which studies whether our genes can be altered by experience (short answer: it’s complicated). Mary Ann Gwinn, Los Angeles Times, 24 Mar. 2022 The improvements are a function of epigenetics, the process through which our lifestyles and environments—and those of our ancestors—permanently alter how our cells interpret DNA. The Editors, Outside Online, 15 Dec. 2014 The company thinks its technology has applications across neuroscience, epigenetics, virology, immuno-oncology, drug development, diagnostics and vaccine development. Mike Freeman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 Jan. 2022 This year, Maison Epigenetic opened its doors in the 16th arrondissement, offering Parisians a Haussmanian nirvana dedicated to epigenetics: understanding how our lifestyles affect the expression of our genes. Caitlin Raux Gunther, Travel + Leisure, 12 Oct. 2021 In this episode of the podcast, Harper’s web editor Violet Lucca talks with Markham about the complexity of animal psychology, epigenetics, climate change, and a crow’s talent for nursing a grudge. Never miss an episode! Lauren Markham, Harper's Magazine, 13 Apr. 2021 The products of these microorganisms are thought to modify the workings of our genes (a process called epigenetics) and to directly affect the functioning of our vital organs. Jerome Groopman, The New York Review of Books, 21 Mar. 2019 See More

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.

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

Learn More About epigenetics

Time Traveler for epigenetics

Time Traveler

The first known use of epigenetics was in 1942

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near epigenetics

epigenetic drainage



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for epigenetics

Last Updated

25 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Epigenetics.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epigenetics. Accessed 25 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for epigenetics


noun, plural in form 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 Epigenetics is the study of the chemical groups that stick to DNA and act as switches to turn genes on and off.New Scientist


Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!