her·​maph·​ro·​dite | \ (ˌ)hər-ˈma-frə-ˌdīt How to pronounce hermaphrodite (audio) \

Definition of hermaphrodite

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an animal or plant having both male and female reproductive tissue or organs
2 : something that is a combination of diverse elements



Definition of hermaphrodite (Entry 2 of 2)

: possessing both male and female reproductive organs, structures, or tissue : hermaphroditic hermaphrodite plants Like their relatives the earthworms, leeches are hermaphrodite animals. Each individual has both male and female sex organs but cannot fertilize itself.— Mark Carwardine

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Other Words from hermaphrodite


hermaphroditism \ (ˌ)hər-​ˈma-​frə-​ˌdī-​ˌti-​zəm How to pronounce hermaphrodite (audio) \ noun

Examples of hermaphrodite in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Over centuries, the matted-haired, animal-skin wearing, hash-smoker has evolved into many things, including a hermaphrodite, for many people. Harish Pullanoor, Quartz India, "How the Indian icon Nataraja danced his way from ancient history to modern physics," 18 Dec. 2019 The majority of worms, also known as nematodes, generally break down into males and hermaphrodites. Fox News, "Worm with three sexes that carries its offspring like a kangaroo discovered," 27 Sep. 2019 Leeches are hermaphrodites and have what's known as accessory pores that secrete mucus, which helps them stick together while mating. oregonlive, "New species of bloodsucking leech with 3 jaws, 59 teeth found in Maryland," 2 Sep. 2019 More than 30 years ago a team of scientists painstakingly traced the connections among each of the 302 nerve cells in the hermaphrodite Caenorhabditis elegans worm. Karen Weintraub, Scientific American, "Worm Wiring Diagram May Help Us Understand Our Own Nervous System," 3 July 2019 Typically the female roundworms of this intriguing species (Caenorhabditis elegans) are hermaphrodites and don’t need males to reproduce. National Geographic, "This Father’s Day, meet 6 extreme animal dads," 14 June 2019 The hermaphrodites, which produce both eggs and sperm at once, are the true solo act of the worm world. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "Alternatives to Heterosexual Pairings, Brought to You By Non-Human Animals," 28 June 2018 Wherefore these women may not improperly be called hermaphrodites, that is monsters of both kinds, half women, half men. Longreads, "The Roaring Girls of Queer London," 8 May 2018 While in humans, male-female unions generally have a fifty-fifty shot of producing males or females, in these nematodes, coupling hermaphrodites with males will produce only male offspring. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "Alternatives to Heterosexual Pairings, Brought to You By Non-Human Animals," 28 June 2018

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1607, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hermaphrodite


Middle English hermofrodite, from Latin hermaphroditus, from Greek hermaphroditos, from Hermaphroditos

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Time Traveler for hermaphrodite

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The first known use of hermaphrodite was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Hermaphrodite.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hermaphrodite. Accessed 16 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for hermaphrodite


How to pronounce hermaphrodite (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of hermaphrodite

: a person, plant, or animal that has both male and female parts


her·​maph·​ro·​dite | \ (ˌ)hər-ˈmaf-rə-ˌdīt How to pronounce hermaphrodite (audio) \

Medical Definition of hermaphrodite

: an individual exhibiting hermaphroditism

Other Words from hermaphrodite

hermaphrodite adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on hermaphrodite

Nglish: Translation of hermaphrodite for Spanish Speakers

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