evo·​lu·​tion | \ ˌe-və-ˈlü-shən , ˌē-və-\

Definition of evolution

1a : descent with modification from preexisting species : cumulative inherited change in a population of organisms through time leading to the appearance of new forms : the process by which new species or populations of living things develop from preexisting forms through successive generations Evolution is a process of continuous branching and diversification from common trunks. This pattern of irreversible separation gives life's history its basic directionality.— Stephen Jay Gould also : the scientific theory explaining the appearance of new species and varieties through the action of various biological mechanisms (such as natural selection, genetic mutation or drift, and hybridization) Since 1950, developments in molecular biology have had a growing influence on the theory of evolution. Nature In Darwinian evolution, the basic mechanism is genetic mutation, followed by selection of the organisms most likely to survive. — Pamela Weintraub
b : the historical development of a biological group (such as a race or species) : phylogeny
2a : a process of change in a certain direction : unfolding
b : the action or an instance of forming and giving something off : emission
c(1) : a process of continuous change from a lower, simpler, or worse to a higher, more complex, or better state : growth
(2) : a process of gradual and relatively peaceful social, political, and economic advance
d : something evolved
3 : the process of working out or developing
4 : the extraction of a mathematical root
5 : a process in which the whole universe is a progression of interrelated phenomena
6 : one of a set of prescribed movements

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Other Words from evolution

evolutionarily \ ˌe-​və-​ˈlü-​shə-​ˌner-​ə-​lē , ˌē-​və-​ \ adverb
evolutionary \ ˌe-​və-​ˈlü-​shə-​ˌner-​ē , ˌē-​və-​ \ adjective
evolutionism \ ˌe-​və-​ˈlü-​shə-​ˌni-​zəm , ˌē-​və-​ \ noun
evolutionist \ ˌe-​və-​ˈlü-​sh(ə-​)nist , ˌē-​və-​ \ noun or adjective

Examples of evolution in a Sentence

changes brought about by evolution an important step in the evolution of computers

Recent Examples on the Web

Her new lodge at Blackberry Mountain, which incorporates locally sourced wood and sandstone into a modern aesthetic, represents the resort’s latest evolution. Vanessa Gregory, ELLE Decor, "A Recently Renovated Mid-Century Home in Knoxville, Tennessee," 7 Feb. 2019 In the meantime, scroll through the gallery below featuring Kendall's full style evolution. Nicole Saunders, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kendall Jenner and Emily Ratajkowski Are Style Twins in Matching Black Turtlenecks at the Same Basketball Game," 25 Jan. 2019 Athena will be the next phase in the mobile PC’s evolution. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Inside Project Athena: How Intel and PC makers are creating the ultra-responsive laptops of tomorrow," 7 Jan. 2019 The secret to the longevity of the British monarchy is a quite brilliant smoke and mirrors combination of evolution and stability. Juliet Rieden, Town & Country, "How Queen Elizabeth Will Pass the Torch to Prince Charles and the Rest of the Royal Family in 2019," 5 Jan. 2019 That was Alfred Russell Wallace, one of the two co-developers of the theory of evolution. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Why does flat Earth belief still exist?," 28 Dec. 2018 Millions of years of evolution has made Physarum abnormally efficient at both of these things. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "A Single Cell Hints at a Solution to the Biggest Problem in Computer Science," 27 Dec. 2018 The Furby has gone through, roughly, three major eras of evolution. Kaitlyn Tiffany, Vox, "Every Furby gets a home," 21 Dec. 2018 Yet Charles Darwin, whose theory of evolution suggested humans are just another animal, broke with the earlier view. David Scharfenberg, BostonGlobe.com, "Did humans drive this polar bear insane?," 13 July 2018

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

1616, in the meaning defined at sense 6

History and Etymology for evolution

Latin evolution-, evolutio unrolling, from evolvere

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Statistics for evolution

Last Updated

15 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for evolution

The first known use of evolution was in 1616

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More Definitions for evolution


evo·​lu·​tion | \ ˌe-və-ˈlü-shən , ˌē-və-\

Kids Definition of evolution

1 : the theory that the various kinds of existing animals and plants have come from kinds that existed in the past
2 : the process of development of an animal or a plant


evo·​lu·​tion | \ ˌev-ə-ˈlü-shən also ˌē-və-\

Medical Definition of evolution

1 : a process of change in a certain direction tumor evolution and progression— I. J. Fidler et al
2a : the historical development of a biological group (as a race or species) : phylogeny
b : a theory that the various types of animals and plants have their origin in other preexisting types and that the distinguishable differences are due to modifications in successive generations

Other Words from evolution

evolutionarily \ -​shə-​ˌner-​ə-​lē \ adverb
evolutionary \ -​shə-​ˌner-​ē \ adjective

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Comments on evolution

What made you want to look up evolution? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to deny responsibility for

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