selective breeding


Definition of 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

First Known Use of selective breeding

1863, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About selective breeding

Time Traveler for selective breeding

Time Traveler

The first known use of selective breeding was in 1863

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near selective breeding

selective assembly

selective breeding

selective cutting

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for selective breeding

Cite this Entry

“Selective breeding.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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