evolution

noun

evo·​lu·​tion ˌe-və-ˈlü-shən How to pronounce evolution (audio) ˌē-və- How to pronounce evolution (audio)
1
a
: 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 species) : phylogeny
2
a
: 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
evolutionarily adverb
evolutionary adjective
evolutionism noun
evolutionist 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 In the business world, Google stands as a paragon of evolution, transforming from a humble search engine into a global tech giant. John Hall, Forbes, 18 Feb. 2024 The answer lies in the modern Chinese history of shedding traditional customs and, more recently, the evolution of the guochao trend. TIME, 17 Feb. 2024 The problem this time wasn’t just bacterial evolution. Emily Mullin, WIRED, 14 Feb. 2024 To newcomers accustomed to big-city life, the evolution of our nightlife and entertainment district might not seem like much of an accomplishment. Melissa Oyler, Charlotte Observer, 14 Feb. 2024 His next project is focused on building a more detailed picture of butterfly evolution, by using a much larger and more comprehensive DNA sampling than the 2023 study. Richard Grant, Smithsonian Magazine, 14 Feb. 2024 Entertainment marketing association Promax is expanding beyond television — and changing its name to reflect that evolution. Michael Schneider, Variety, 6 Feb. 2024 The result, published in The Times last month, is a comprehensive timeline and visual history of Williamsburg’s evolution over the last three and a half decades. John Otis, New York Times, 4 Feb. 2024 Much of evolution is experimental, with success often measured by a species’ versatility, or ability to adapt to many different places and conditions. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, 3 Feb. 2024 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

borrowed from New Latin ēvolūtiōn-, ēvolūtiō "unfolding of a curve (in geometry), emergence from an enclosing structure, historical development," going back to Medieval Latin, "unfolding of a tale, lapse of time," going back to Latin, "unrolling of a papyrus scroll while reading it," from ēvolū-, variant stem of ēvolvere "to roll out or away, unwind, unroll" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of verbal action — more at evolve

First Known Use

1616, in the meaning defined at sense 6

Time Traveler
The first known use of evolution was in 1616

Dictionary Entries Near evolution

Cite this Entry

“Evolution.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/evolution. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

evolution

noun
ev·​o·​lu·​tion
ˌev-ə-ˈlü-shən,
ˌē-və-
1
a
: a process of change in a certain direction
especially : a process of constant change from a lower or simple state to a higher or complex state : growth
b
: something evolved
2
: the process of working out or developing
3
a
: the process by which new species or populations of living things develop from preexisting forms through successive generations
b
: the scientific theory explaining the appearance of new species and varieties through the action of various biological mechanisms (as natural selection or genetic mutation)
evolutionary
-shə-ˌner-ē
adjective

Medical Definition

evolution

noun
evo·​lu·​tion
ˌev-ə-ˈlü-shən also ˌē-və-
1
: a process of change in a certain direction
tumor evolution and progressionI. J. Fidler et al.
2
a
: 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
also : the scientific theory explaining the appearance of new species and varieties through the action of various biological mechanisms (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
b
: the historical development of a biological group (as a race or species) : phylogeny
evolutionarily adverb
evolutionary adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on evolution

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