ol·​i·​go·​nu·​cle·​o·​tide ə-ˌli-gə-ˈnü-klē-ə-ˌtīd How to pronounce oligonucleotide (audio)
: a short nucleic-acid chain usually consisting of up to approximately 20 nucleotides

Examples of oligonucleotide in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Carrillo pointed to a recent paper describing a Phase 1 trial of a different kind of genetic tool called an antisense oligonucleotide, or ASO, in Alzheimer’s as an example of how researchers are leveraging emerging technologies. Andrew Joseph, STAT, 16 July 2023 This was exactly the data that Yu needed to answer his next big question on the broader applications of individualized antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) therapies. Bree Iskandar, STAT, 12 July 2023 Another therapeutic approach, called antisense oligonucleotides, can only address a minority of patients and has to be given repeatedly. Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY, 22 June 2023 These sequences of nucleotides, called oligonucleotides, are synthesized into DNA and integrated into living organisms, like bacteria or viruses. IEEE Spectrum, 7 Mar. 2019 Through their foundation and GoFundMe fundraiser, the Saladinos are raising the remaining $2.5 million needed to design from scratch an antisense oligonucleotide, or ASO treatment, which would knock down the toxic impact of a genetic mutation that is causing the dysfunction in Henry’s brain. Alaa Elassar, CNN, 13 Mar. 2023 The drug is a synthetic genetic molecule — known as an oligonucleotide — similar to Biogen’s therapy for spinal muscular atrophy, Spinraza. Ryan Cross, BostonGlobe.com, 8 Dec. 2022 The company's encoding starts with a library of dozens to hundreds of short pieces of DNA called oligos (short for oligonucleotide). John Timmer, Ars Technica, 15 Sep. 2022 Yet another approach, with Ionis Pharmaceuticals, involves using antisense oligonucleotides, which are pieces of nucleic acids designed to bind to cells’ RNA — in this case, to fix a problem that leads to the production of abnormal glycogen. Laurie McGinley, Anchorage Daily News, 5 June 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'oligonucleotide.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1942, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of oligonucleotide was in 1942

Dictionary Entries Near oligonucleotide

Cite this Entry

“Oligonucleotide.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oligonucleotide. Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

Medical Definition


oli·​go·​nu·​cle·​o·​tide -ˈn(y)ü-klē-ə-ˌtīd How to pronounce oligonucleotide (audio)
: a relatively short single-stranded nucleic-acid chain (as an oligodeoxynucleotide or oligoribonucleotide) usually consisting of up to approximately 20 nucleotides

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