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

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 The San Diego Zoo has 12 northern white rhino cell lines, and working with them on the gene level can furnish eggs with enormous genetic variety—an insurance policy against future inbreeding and genetic bottlenecks. Daniel Fernandez, Smithsonian, "Can the Northern White Rhino Be Brought Back From the Brink of Extinction?," 22 May 2018 But in recent years, a longtime study of wolves and moose interaction on the island has found that because of inbreeding and disease, the pack of wolves had dwindled to just two, with the moose population exploding. Todd Spangler, USA TODAY, "Plan would reintroduce 20-30 wolves at Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park over a three-year span," 16 Mar. 2018 The aim is to preserve the herd for the future by keeping it to a sustainable size and warding off the danger of inbreeding and territorial fighting. Washington Post, "AP PHOTOS: German wranglers corral wild stallions," 27 May 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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Last Updated

4 Oct 2018

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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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