polymorphism

noun
poly·​mor·​phism | \ ˌpä-lē-ˈmȯr-ˌfi-zəm How to pronounce polymorphism (audio) \

Definition of polymorphism

: the quality or state of existing in or assuming different forms: such as
a(1) : existence of a species in several forms independent of the variations of sex
(2) : existence of a gene in several allelic forms also : a variation in a specific DNA sequence
(3) : existence of a molecule (such as an enzyme) in several forms in a single species
b : the property of crystallizing in two or more forms with distinct structure

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Other Words from polymorphism

polymorphic \ ˌpä-​lē-​ˈmȯr-​fik How to pronounce polymorphism (audio) \ adjective
polymorphically \ ˌpä-​lē-​ˈmȯr-​fi-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce polymorphism (audio) \ adverb

Examples of polymorphism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The campaign uses a technique called polymorphism to blast out hundreds of thousands of unique samples. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "4 major browsers are getting hit in widespread malware attacks," 10 Dec. 2020 Some of us have a polymorphism, a genetic variant that slows our metabolism for caffeine. Dawn Mackeen, New York Times, "Is Coffee Good for You?," 13 Feb. 2020 Genomic Prediction screens embryos for 1m single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)—tiny variations in individuals’ DNA that, added together, can raise or lower the likelihood of suffering a particular disease. The Economist, "Macron on a mission," 8 Nov. 2019 Each variant has a version (more precisely, one of the alleles in a single nucleotide polymorphism) associated with a small boost to the trait in question. Charles Murray, WSJ, "Genetics Will Revolutionize Social Science," 27 Jan. 2020 Both examined more than 500,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)—swaps of one nucleotide for another at a particular spot in the DNA—from the Human Genome Diversity Panel. Gary Stix, Scientific American, "Traces of a Distant Past," 1 Nov. 2012 But then the Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits Consortium—the GIANT consortium for short—identified more than 20,000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that influence height in a series of groundbreaking studies. Ben Cohen, WSJ, "Shawn Bradley Is Really, Really Tall. But Why?," 18 Sep. 2018 These sites are called single nucleotide polymorphisms — a.k.a. Brian Resnick, Vox, "Genetics has learned a ton — mostly about white people. That’s a problem.," 27 Oct. 2018 The genetic differences picked out are often things called single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), which are places in the genome where a lone pair of bases, the chemical letters in which genetic messages are written, can vary between individuals. The Economist, "A big collaboration is trying to understand diseases of the psyche," 28 June 2018

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

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First Known Use of polymorphism

1839, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for polymorphism

Time Traveler

The first known use of polymorphism was in 1839

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Statistics for polymorphism

Last Updated

27 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Polymorphism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/polymorphism. Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for polymorphism

polymorphism

noun
poly·​mor·​phism | \ ˌpäl-i-ˈmȯr-ˌfiz-əm How to pronounce polymorphism (audio) \

Medical Definition of polymorphism

: the quality or state of existing in or assuming different forms: as
a(1) : existence of a species in several forms independent of the variations of sex
(2) : existence of a gene in several allelic forms also : a variation in a specific sequence of DNA
(3) : existence of a molecule (as an enzyme) in several forms in a single species
b : the property of crystallizing in two or more forms with distinct structure

More from Merriam-Webster on polymorphism

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about polymorphism

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