evo·​lu·​tion | \ ˌe-və-ˈlü-shən How to pronounce evolution (audio) , 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 How to pronounce evolutionarily (audio) , ˌē-​və-​ \ adverb
evolutionary \ ˌe-​və-​ˈlü-​shə-​ˌner-​ē How to pronounce evolutionary (audio) , ˌē-​və-​ \ adjective
evolutionism \ ˌe-​və-​ˈlü-​shə-​ˌni-​zəm How to pronounce evolutionism (audio) , ˌē-​və-​ \ noun
evolutionist \ ˌe-​və-​ˈlü-​sh(ə-​)nist How to pronounce evolutionist (audio) , 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

But Hondo is an evolution beyond anything Disney has ever attempted, and offers a moving, talking glimpse into Disney’s newest, largest, and most ambitious attraction. Matt Blitz, Popular Mechanics, "The A1000 Is Disney's Advanced Animatronic Bringing the Galaxy's Edge Star Wars Theme Park To Life," 28 Feb. 2019 The spread of technology across the finance function has been a key driver in the evolution of the role. Tatyana Shumsky, WSJ, "Corporate Controllers Step Into the Spotlight as CFO Role Evolves," 20 Feb. 2019 In many ways, the evolution of the Christmas message mirrors the royal family's struggle to transform into a modern monarchy—to balance their roles as iconic figureheads with the insatiable thirst for information about their lives and relationships. Katie Frost, Town & Country, "How the Queen's First Televised Christmas Broadcast Changed the Royal Family Forever," 25 Dec. 2018 In human evolution, hook tools appear relatively late. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Orangutans Are Better Than Children at Making Tools, Study Finds," 12 Nov. 2018 The thing to note here is that this is a pivotal point in the evolution of ride-hailing companies. Polina Marinova, Fortune, "Term Sheet -- Tuesday, July 3," 3 July 2018 All told, the recent and previous papers make a case for population structure as a meaningful force in evolution. John Rennie, WIRED, "This Mutation Math Shows How Life Keeps on Evolving," 1 July 2018 The units’ malleability is portrayed as a pioneering next step in the evolution of housing. Julianne Tveten, The New Republic, "Silicon Valley’s “Flexibility” Fetish," 31 May 2018 Whichever scenario actually happened, the origin of mitochondria marked one of the great leaps in the evolution of life. Carl Zimmer, STAT, "Shot through with microbes: How our bodies adapt to a hidden world of bacteria," 30 May 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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Last Updated

12 Apr 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 How to pronounce evolution (audio) , 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 How to pronounce evolutionarily (audio) \ adverb
evolutionary \ -​shə-​ˌner-​ē How to pronounce evolutionary (audio) \ 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).


likely to have or produce good results

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