plasticity

noun

plas·​tic·​i·​ty pla-ˈsti-sə-tē How to pronounce plasticity (audio)
1
: the quality or state of being plastic
especially : capacity for being molded or altered
2
: the ability to retain a shape attained by pressure deformation
3
: the capacity of organisms with the same genotype to vary in developmental pattern, in phenotype, or in behavior according to varying environmental conditions
4
: the capacity for continuous alteration of the neural pathways and synapses of the living brain and nervous system in response to experience or injury

Examples of plasticity in a Sentence

we chose that type of clay for its greater plasticity
Recent Examples on the Web In humans, however, these cells gradually lose this plasticity through a succession of transformations that differentiate them into specialized roles. Philip Ball, Scientific American, 18 Apr. 2023 This ability of cells and tissues to develop different types of structures is called plasticity. Philip Ball, Scientific American, 1 Dec. 2023 This finding provides evidence that the long-term recovery is due to the brain adapting to the stimulation in a process called plasticity rather than as a direct effect of the stimulation itself. Christopher Rozell, Discover Magazine, 2 Oct. 2023 This and various other constraints—including the need to maintain sufficient plasticity for adaptability—mean that organisms are compromised, inevitably incorporating numerous vulnerabilities. Adrian Woolfson, WSJ, 23 Nov. 2023 The idea that cancer can hijack brain plasticity — subverting supple connections in the healthy brain that ordinarily lead to learning and memory formation — is gaining traction. Elizabeth Cooney, STAT, 1 Nov. 2023 What’s more, the researchers highlighted a difference in gene expression that promoted synaptic plasticity, which is the ability of neurons to strengthen brain connections. Popular Science, 12 Oct. 2023 Lifton is fascinated by the range and plasticity of the human mind, its ability to contort to the demands of totalitarian control, to find justification for the unimaginable—the Holocaust, war crimes, the atomic bomb—and yet recover, and reconjure hope. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, 12 Nov. 2023 This is similar to how things work in biology, says Santoro, where two complimentary processes known as short-term plasticity and long-term plasticity operate over different timescales to modulate the strength of neural connections. IEEE Spectrum, 10 Nov. 2023 See More

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

1727, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of plasticity was in 1727

Dictionary Entries Near plasticity

Cite this Entry

“Plasticity.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plasticity. Accessed 2 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

plasticity

noun
plas·​tic·​i·​ty pla-ˈstis-ət-ē How to pronounce plasticity (audio)
: the quality or state of being plastic
especially : capacity for being molded or changed in form or shape

Medical Definition

plasticity

noun
plas·​tic·​i·​ty pla-ˈstis-ət-ē How to pronounce plasticity (audio)
plural plasticities
1
: the quality or state of being plastic
especially : capacity for being molded or altered
2
: the ability to retain a shape attained by pressure deformation
3
: the capacity of organisms with the same genotype to vary in developmental pattern, in phenotype, or in behavior according to varying environmental conditions
4
: the capacity for continuous alteration of the neural pathways and synapses of the living brain and nervous system in response to experience or injury that involves the formation of new pathways and synapses and the elimination or modification of existing ones

More from Merriam-Webster on plasticity

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