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

Further Reading The evolution of computer displays Born to Jewish immigrants from Russia in New York City in 1925, Berezin earned a BA in physics at NYU before working throughout the 1950s and 1960s designing early computing systems. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "Computing pioneer Evelyn Berezin died this week—she should be remembered," 15 Dec. 2018 That vision of traditional American values was important in a period marked by social upheaval due to the aftermath of the Civil War, the evolution of industries driving the economy, and the influx of immigrants from a troubled Europe. Maggie Burch, House Beautiful, "Everything You Need To Know About Colonial Revival Design," 19 Nov. 2018 The use of novel chemicals as weapons favors the evolution of ever more behaviorally and chemically defended pathogens and pests. Rob Dunn, Discover Magazine, "Our Attempts to Eradicate Insects are Just Making them Resistant to Pesticides," 16 Nov. 2018 Clearly an evolution of the Obama-era car, the new model features a sleeker roofline and Cadillac’s latest styling language, including what appear to be the same headlights as the current Escalade SUV. Gary Gastelu, Fox News, "Trump's new 'Beast' limousine spotted roaming New York City," 24 Sep. 2018 Many prior studies have suggested that Jupiter has greatly influenced the evolution of the solar system. Charles Q. Choi, Space.com, "Most Stars with Jupiters Have Giant Super-Earths," 18 July 2018 Larz Anderson Auto Museum Home to the oldest car collection in the country, the Larz Anderson Auto Museum, in Brookline, explores the evolution of the motor car within the context of the private collection of one of Boston’s wealthiest families. Elizabeth Wellington, Condé Nast Traveler, "12 Best Museums in Boston You'll Want To Visit," 17 July 2018 Without such a rule, taking manufacturing on the road became an enticing option in design evolution. Pam Baker, Ars Technica, "Artificial Intelligence and the coming of the self-designing machine," 6 Dec. 2018 The idea is to bridge bottom-up and top-down approaches to understanding technology evolution. David Roberts, Vox, "What made solar panels so cheap? Thank government policy.," 20 Nov. 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

4 Jan 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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