her·​i·​ta·​bil·​i·​ty | \ ˌher-ə-tə-ˈbi-lə-tē How to pronounce heritability (audio) , ˌhe-rə- \

Definition of heritability

1 : the quality or state of being heritable
2 : the proportion of observed variation in a particular trait (such as height) that can be attributed to inherited genetic factors in contrast to environmental ones

Examples of heritability in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Though their heritability varies, the traits, if already present in the DNA, are more likely to be expressed if the person suffers abuse in their earliest years. Ashley Lee, Los Angeles Times, "Apple’s new TV show reconsiders the ‘murder gene.’ Here’s what the science says," 28 Apr. 2020 Since then, studies have shown autism runs in families and have put its heritability at around 80 percent, or about as heritable as height or eye color. Nicholette Zeliadt, New York Times, "What Causes Autism?," 20 Apr. 2020 Researchers in Sweden and Minnesota had compared anorexia rates in identical and fraternal twins, a common approach to tease out heritability of complex traits and diseases. Jennifer Couzin-frankel, Science | AAAS, "Rethinking anorexia: Biology may be more important than culture, new studies reveal," 9 Apr. 2020 Equation 1 summarizes a vast amount of literature on subjective well-being, starting with the question of the heritability of happiness. Arthur C. Brooks, The Atlantic, "The Three Equations for a Happy Life," 9 Apr. 2020 Educational attainment also demonstrates how heritability varies with environment. The Economist, "Modern genetics will improve health and usher in “designer” children," 7 Nov. 2019 Moreover, this variation is substantially influenced by genetic factors, with estimates of heritability typically around 50%. David Z. Hambrick, Scientific American, "What Makes a Prodigy?," 22 Sep. 2015 In people, twin studies are the gold standard for measuring heritability [of traits]. Sharon Begley, STAT, "Scientists aren’t sure why identical twins differ. Armadillo quads offer an answer," 20 Dec. 2019 As Nick Carne writes for Cosmos, researchers from the University of Helsinki drew on data detailing around 5,726 cats’ behavior to identify patterns among breeds and gauge heritability. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Your Cat’s Attitude Actually Is Closely Linked to Its Breed, Survey Shows," 19 June 2019

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

1832, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for heritability

herit(able) + -ability

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Time Traveler for heritability

Time Traveler

The first known use of heritability was in 1832

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Statistics for heritability

Last Updated

20 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Heritability.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heritability. Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for heritability


her·​i·​ta·​bil·​i·​ty | \ ˌher-ət-ə-ˈbil-ət-ē How to pronounce heritability (audio) \
plural heritabilities

Medical Definition of heritability

1 : the quality or state of being heritable
2 : the proportion of observed variation in a particular trait (as intelligence) that can be attributed to inherited genetic factors in contrast to environmental ones

More from Merriam-Webster on heritability

Britannica English: Translation of heritability for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about heritability

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