involution

noun

in·​vo·​lu·​tion ˌin-və-ˈlü-shən How to pronounce involution (audio)
1
a(1)
: the act or an instance of enfolding or entangling : involvement
(2)
: an involved grammatical construction usually characterized by the insertion of clauses between the subject and predicate
2
3
a
: an inward curvature or penetration
b
: the formation of a gastrula by ingrowth of cells formed at the dorsal lip
4
: a shrinking or return to a former size
5
: the regressive alterations of a body or its parts characteristic of the aging process
skeletal involution due to loss of estrogens at menopause
involutional adjective

Examples of involution in a Sentence

the involution of the thriller's plot made it hard to follow
Recent Examples on the Web Reviewers began to accuse her of involution, pretension, and self-entrancement. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, 29 Oct. 2023 In a challenging economic environment, AI has become less about revolution and more about involution, and many startups are using it to make small efficiency improvements, hoping to gain enough of an edge to stay competitive. Lavender Au, WIRED, 13 Sep. 2023 This is curiously analogous to the cultural involution which Jews also underwent during this period. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 16 May 2012 Assuming either model, it has long been presumed that their involution by the Baloch has had a strong impact on the Brahui genetically; the two groups are very close. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 20 Dec. 2010 In contrast, non-Muslim minorities began a long process of involution after the Islamic Arab conquests, only disrupted in the past century by emigration and to a lesser extent emancipation. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 10 June 2011 China’s hyper-competitive schools and workplaces have given rise to movements like ‘lying flat’ and ‘involution,’ which symbolize young people’s growing rejection of its cutthroat systems. Yvonne Lau, Fortune, 17 Sep. 2022 Lying flat and involution are not just online fodder, experts say; symptoms of passive resistance are popping up across Chinese society. Grady McGregor, Fortune, 29 Aug. 2022 The opposite of evolution, a process of involution spirals in on itself, trapping its participants. Yi-Ling Liu, Wired, 9 Mar. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'involution.' 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

Middle English involucioun "wrapping of a bandage, twist or coil of an organ, anatomical fold or entanglement," borrowed from Middle French & Medieval Latin; Middle French involucion "state of something rolled up on itself, confusion, complications hindering the prosecution of a lawsuit," borrowed from Medieval Latin involūtiōn-, involūtiō "twist or coil of an organ, covering, wrapping up, envelopment, complexity, obscurity," going back to Latin, "a spiral, screw," from involū-, variant stem of involvere "to move by rolling, roll back on itself, enclose in a covering, wrap up" (Medieval Latin, "to engage in an affair or occupation, implicate, ensnare") + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of verbal action — more at involve

First Known Use

circa 1611, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

Time Traveler
The first known use of involution was circa 1611

Dictionary Entries Near involution

Cite this Entry

“Involution.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/involution. Accessed 20 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

involution

noun
in·​vo·​lu·​tion ˌin-və-ˈlü-shən How to pronounce involution (audio)

Medical Definition

involution

noun
in·​vo·​lu·​tion ˌin-və-ˈlü-shən How to pronounce involution (audio)
1
a
: an inward curvature or penetration
b
: the formation of a gastrula by ingrowth of cells formed at the dorsal lip
2
: a shrinking or return to a former size
involution of the uterus after pregnancy
3
: the regressive alterations of a body or its parts characteristic of the aging process
specifically : decline marked by a decrease of bodily vigor and in women by menopause

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