morphology

noun

mor·​phol·​o·​gy mȯr-ˈfä-lə-jē How to pronounce morphology (audio)
1
a
: 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
2
a
: 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.
3
a
: a study of structure or form
b
: structure, form
the unique morphology of the cityH. J. Nelson
4
: the external structure of rocks in relation to the development of erosional forms or topographic features
morphological adjective
or less commonly morphologic
morphologically adverb
morphologist noun

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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 Male factor infertility is related to the number, motility (movement), and morphology (shape) of sperm, so supplements may target these contributing factors. Casey Seiden, Parents, 22 Mar. 2024 Three billion years after the big bang, the morphology of our Milky Way was pretty well fixed. Bruce Dorminey, Forbes, 21 Feb. 2024 Dr Britz’s research focuses on the morphology, comparative anatomy and taxonomy of fishes, particularly those occurring in Myanmar. Grrlscientist, Forbes, 28 Feb. 2024 The morphology of their teeth has suggested that these sloths consumed vegetation, similar to the herbivorous nature of their modern cousins. Conor Feehly, Discover Magazine, 7 Feb. 2024 This 1980 transmission electron microscopic (TEM) image revealed some of the ultrastructural morphology exhibited by three poxvirus, molluscum contagiosum virions. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 24 Aug. 2023 The cyanotypes are able to convey both the scale of the objects and the morphology and the incredible detail that these organisms have. Lisa Deaderick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 21 Jan. 2024 Scientists could do little more than identify individual colonies one at a time by shape, color, morphology and nutrient requirements. Dan Samorodnitsky, Quanta Magazine, 17 Jan. 2024 Because models are not actual natural history specimens, the cast would be of little scientific value for studying the morphology and life histories of blue whales. Rachel Nuwer, Smithsonian Magazine, 10 Jan. 2024

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

German Morphologie, from morph- + -logie -logy

First Known Use

1828, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of morphology was in 1828

Dictionary Entries Near morphology

Cite this Entry

“Morphology.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/morphology. Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

morphology

noun
mor·​phol·​o·​gy mȯr-ˈfäl-ə-jē How to pronounce morphology (audio)
1
a
: a branch of biology that deals with the form and structure of animals and plants
b
: the form and structure of a plant or animal or any of its parts
2
: the part of grammar dealing with word formation
3
: structure entry 1 sense 3, form
the morphology of rocks
morphological adjective

Medical Definition

morphology

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

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