on·​tog·​e·​ny än-ˈtä-jə-nē How to pronounce ontogeny (audio)
: the development or course of development especially of an individual organism

Examples of ontogeny in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This study suggests that, through careful experimental manipulations during the growth phase of ontogeny, extant birds can potentially be used to gain important insights into previously unexplored aspects of bipedal non-avian theropod locomotion. Seriously Science, Discover Magazine, 18 Mar. 2014 This would tend to show that ontogeny follows phylogeny. Seriously Science, Discover Magazine, 20 Nov. 2014 Whether referring to hormone levels or limb proportions, scientists refer to the physiological shifts that occur as an individual grows up as ontogeny or ontogenetic changes. Christie Wilcox, Discover Magazine, 19 May 2017 Having a big nose: structure, ontogeny, and function of the elephant seal proboscis. Darren Naish, Scientific American Blog Network, 3 June 2017

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

Word History


International Scientific Vocabulary

First Known Use

1872, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ontogeny was in 1872

Dictionary Entries Near ontogeny

Cite this Entry

“Ontogeny.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ontogeny. Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

Medical Definition


on·​tog·​e·​ny än-ˈtäj-ə-nē How to pronounce ontogeny (audio)
plural ontogenies
: the development or course of development of an individual organism

called also ontogenesis

compare phylogeny sense 2

More from Merriam-Webster on ontogeny

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!