in·​breed·​ing | \ ˈin-ˈbrē-diŋ \

Definition of inbreeding

1 : the interbreeding of closely related individuals especially to preserve and fix desirable characters of and to eliminate unfavorable characters from a stock
2 : confinement to a narrow range or a local or limited field of choice

Examples of inbreeding in a Sentence

genetic defects caused by inbreeding

Recent Examples on the Web

For instance, scientists can now exchange oryx sperm overseas to avoid the consequences of inbreeding within zoo populations, and employ the option of preemptively inseminating females before their release into the wild. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "New Artificial Insemination Technique Successfully Breeds Critically Endangered Scimitar-Horned Oryx," 10 July 2018 Scientists said the information could help explain, for example, whether internal factors such as inbreeding or genetic variation in immune systems are preventing the whales from rebounding. Phuong Le, The Seattle Times, "Scientists to sequence genes of struggling southern-resident orca whales," 5 Oct. 2018 After continuous observation for months, only the most sociable were selected for the next generation, with the researchers taking care to avoid inbreeding. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "Friendly fox genomes help us understand the genetics of behavior," 11 Aug. 2018 Due to the smaller gene pool, such inbreeding typically leads to higher rates of recessive disorders, translating into higher death rates and poorer overall health. Deutsche Welle, USA TODAY, "Northern white rhino could be saved from extinction using embryos," 5 July 2018 One major drawback to this tactic is that the genetic pool from just two northern white cows and four bulls is extremely limited, and would likely lead to severe inbreeding. New York Times, "Rhino Embryos Made in Lab to Save Nearly Extinct Subspecies," 4 July 2018 Sure, Smith and her colleagues could look for known symptoms of inbreeding in mountain lions, like kinked tails. Matt Simon, WIRED, "Can the Koala Genome Save the Species From Deforestation and Chlamydia?," 2 July 2018 That inbreeding can lead to sterility and other physical ailments that threaten the species’ continued survival in Southern California. Joseph Serna,, "Mountain lions are being killed on freeways and weakened by inbreeding. Researchers have a solution," 16 May 2018 Rednecks are unjustly accused of being an inbreeding lot, and, well ... Stephen A. Crockett Jr., The Root, "Wait, Rudy Giuliani Was Once Married to His Cousin? That Explains Everything," 14 June 2018

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

circa 1842, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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in broad daylight


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Last Updated

8 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for inbreeding

The first known use of inbreeding was circa 1842

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English Language Learners Definition of inbreeding

: a process by which animals, plants, or people are born from or produced by closely related parents


in·​breed·​ing | \ ˈin-ˈbrēd-iŋ \

Medical Definition of inbreeding

: the interbreeding of closely related individuals especially to preserve and fix desirable characters of and to eliminate unfavorable characters from a stock — compare linebreeding, outbreeding

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with inbreeding

Spanish Central: Translation of inbreeding

Nglish: Translation of inbreeding for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about inbreeding

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a servile follower or underling

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