mor·​phol·​o·​gy | \ mȯr-ˈfä-lə-jē How to pronounce morphology (audio) \

Definition of morphology

1a : a branch of biology that deals with the form and structure of animals and plants
b : the form and structure of an organism or any of its parts amphibian morphology external and internal eye morphology
2a : a study and description of word formation (such as inflection, derivation, and compounding) in language
b : the system of word-forming elements and processes in a language According to English morphology, the third person singular present tense of a verb is formed by adding -s.
3a : a study of structure or form
b : structure, form the unique morphology of the city— H. J. Nelson
4 : the external structure of rocks in relation to the development of erosional forms or topographic features

Other Words from morphology

morphological \ ˌmȯr-​fə-​ˈlä-​ji-​kəl How to pronounce morphology (audio) \ or less commonly morphologic \ ˌmȯr-​fə-​ˈlä-​jik How to pronounce morphology (audio) \ adjective
morphologically \ ˌmȯr-​fə-​ˈlä-​ji-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce morphology (audio) \ adverb
morphologist \ mȯr-​ˈfä-​lə-​jist How to pronounce morphology (audio) \ noun

What is morphology?

Within the field of biology, morphology is the study of the shapes and arrangement of parts of organisms, in order to determine their function, their development, and how they may have been shaped by evolution. Morphology is particularly important in classifying species, since it can often reveal how closely one species is related to another. Morphology is studied within other sciences as well, including astronomy and geology. And in language, morphology considers where words come from and why they look the way they do.

Examples of morphology in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Co-author John Capano of Brown University performed the x-ray experiments, using a technique known as XROMM (X-ray reconstruction of moving morphology) to create X-ray movies of the snakes. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 24 Mar. 2022 Rather there was probably a lot of variation in Neandertal morphology, and in later times some interbreeding occurred between them and our modern European ancestors. David W. Frayer, Scientific American, 1 Feb. 2022 Researchers have identified three main smile subtypes, each with its own morphology and social functions: reward smiles, affiliation smiles and dominance smiles. New York Times, 8 Feb. 2022 The team also examined the nits’ morphology and attachment for information about their hosts’ lives. Brian Handwerk, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 Dec. 2021 In healthy subjects screened with cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), hs-cTns were associated with cardiac morphology (that is, cardiac mass and volume). Christos Varounis, Scientific American, 3 Nov. 2021 What the pairings are really, and effectively, based on is morphology, shape, form, visual motif — this-is-like-that — which immediately pulls the eye into play. New York Times, 6 Jan. 2022 Furthermore, these cannabis types differ from the morphology of the plant. Dario Sabaghi, Forbes, 20 Oct. 2021 Until another expedition is organized, the team plans to examine the bacterial mats and other sea life samples to understand their genetics and morphology—and determine whether these creatures can be categorized as a new species. Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, 22 Nov. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'morphology.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of morphology

1828, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for morphology

German Morphologie, from morph- + -logie -logy

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Time Traveler for morphology

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The first known use of morphology was in 1828

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Dictionary Entries Near morphology

morphological construction



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Statistics for morphology

Last Updated

7 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Morphology.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for morphology


mor·​phol·​o·​gy | \ mȯr-ˈfäl-ə-jē How to pronounce morphology (audio) \
plural morphologies

Medical Definition of morphology

1 : a branch of biology that deals with the form and structure of animals and plants especially with respect to the forms, relations, metamorphoses, and phylogenetic development of organs apart from their functions — see anatomy sense 1 — compare physiology sense 1
2 : the form and structure of an organism or any of its parts

More from Merriam-Webster on morphology

Nglish: Translation of morphology for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of morphology for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about morphology


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