polymorphism

noun
poly·​mor·​phism | \ˌpä-lē-ˈmȯr-ˌfi-zəm \

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 \ adjective
polymorphically \ ˌpä-​lē-​ˈmȯr-​fi-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

Examples of polymorphism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

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 We’re made to believe Jack-Jack’s power is polymorphism. Shannon Liao, The Verge, "Here are all of Jack-Jack’s powers in the Incredibles 2," 16 June 2018 Abnormal changes in these base pairs, called single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs, might be the root causes of most noninfectious human diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and cystic fibrosis. Brian Alexander, WIRED, "Biopoly Money," 1 June 2000 This technique relies on datasets that compare single nucleotide polymorphisms—differences in DNA nucleotides that act as biological markers among individuals. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, "Ancient DNA Could Unravel the Mystery of Prehistoric European Migration," 14 June 2017 Using about 50 different variations — single-nucleotide polymorphisms (otherwise known as SNPs) — researchers created a risk score. Aaron E. Carroll, New York Times, "The Power of Simple Life Changes to Prevent Heart Disease," 12 Dec. 2016

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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The first known use of polymorphism was in 1839

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More Definitions for polymorphism

polymorphism

noun
poly·​mor·​phism | \ˌpäl-i-ˈmȯr-ˌfiz-əm \

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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