melanism

noun
mel·​a·​nism | \ ˈme-lə-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce melanism (audio) \

Definition of melanism

1 : an increased amount of black or nearly black pigmentation (as of skin, feathers, or hair) of an individual or kind of organism — compare industrial melanism
2 : intense human pigmentation of the skin, eyes, and hair

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Other Words from melanism

melanistic \ ˌme-​lə-​ˈni-​stik How to pronounce melanism (audio) \ adjective

Examples of melanism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web To determine the origins of squirrel melanism, or dark coloration, McRobie and colleagues from Cambridge University and the Virginia Museum of Natural History extracted DNA from gray and fox squirrel specimens found in North America. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Interspecies Breeding Is Responsible for Some Squirrels’ Black Coloring," 16 Aug. 2019 But why melanism evolved in cats is a trickier question. Sergio Pitamitz, National Geographic, "Exclusive: Rare Black Wildcat Caught on Film in Africa," 22 Mar. 2017 The animal is melanistic—its genes carry a mutation that creates more dark pigment than light pigment, according to Eduardo Eizirik, a biologist and cat-melanism expert at Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil. Sergio Pitamitz, National Geographic, "Exclusive: Rare Black Wildcat Caught on Film in Africa," 22 Mar. 2017

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

1843, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for melanism

borrowed from French mélanisme, from Greek melan-, stem of mélās "black, dark" + French -isme -ism, on the model of albinisme albinism — more at melano-

Note: French mélanisme appears in the 1820's, perhaps earliest in De l'organisation des animaux, ou Principes d'anatomie comparée, tome premier (Paris, 1822), by the zoologist Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville (1777-1850).

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Time Traveler for melanism

Time Traveler

The first known use of melanism was in 1843

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Cite this Entry

“Melanism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/melanism. Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for melanism

melanism

noun
mel·​a·​nism | \ ˈmel-ə-ˌniz-əm How to pronounce melanism (audio) \

Medical Definition of melanism

1 : an increased amount of black or nearly black pigmentation (as of skin, feathers, or hair) of an individual or kind of organism
2 : intense human pigmentation in skin, eyes, and hair

Other Words from melanism

melanistic \ ˌmel-​ə-​ˈnis-​tik How to pronounce melanism (audio) \ adjective

Comments on melanism

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