selective breeding


: the process of modifying the characteristics of living things especially to enhance one or more desirable traits by selection in breeding controlled by humans
After about three years of selective breeding, their company, Cavendish Game Birds, was able to deliver quail that consistently dressed out to seven or eight ounces.Warren Schultz
Selective breeding continues in an attempt to enhance the human use of this economic plant against a background of disappointingly low rubber content …John M. Miller and Ralph A. Backhaus
Fixed through selective breeding, traits could vanish over several generations if people became careless in choosing their dogs' mates.Mark Derr

called also artificial selection

Examples of selective breeding in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Adaptation to climate change through selective breeding could mean revisiting the ancient varieties from which today’s commercial hops varieties were originally cloned, Bauerle said. Bill Morris, Discover Magazine, 27 Dec. 2023 Retrieving behavior in dogs is generally assumed to be the result of selective breeding and social tendencies rooted in their wolf origins. Lauren Leffer, Scientific American, 14 Dec. 2023 Instead of 50 years of selective breeding, dogs have aquired their good behavior over centuries. Matthew Every, Field & Stream, 7 Dec. 2023 Yet these biological machines were partially designed for human needs (through selective breeding and genetic modification) and convert less useful inputs— like soybeans—into more useful ones, like delicious bacon cheeseburgers. Noah Gordon, The New Republic, 3 Oct. 2023 Delta 8 is typically derived from hemp plants through selective breeding or extraction methods. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 5 Sep. 2023 Over the past century, agriculture has seen an explosion in productivity, thanks to things like mechanization, synthetic fertilizers, selective breeding, and, of course, pesticides -- lots of it. IEEE Spectrum, 1 Feb. 2010 Through careful cultivation and selective breeding techniques, hemp varieties with elevated CBD levels are cultivated for industrial purposes and cannabinoid extraction. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 24 July 2023 Humans have been doing this for thousands of years through selective breeding. Bill Gates, Foreign Affairs, 10 Apr. 2018

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

1863, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of selective breeding was in 1863

Dictionary Entries Near selective breeding

Cite this Entry

“Selective breeding.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

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