survival of the fittest

noun phrase

: the natural process by which organisms best adjusted to their environment are most successful in surviving and reproducing : natural selection
Our house sits in the middle of the woods, with poisonous snakes in the grass and snapping turtles in the ponds, where the survival of the fittest punctuates each day.Steven Lewis
It's part of human nature to be competitive; after all, survival of the fittest is the basis of evolution.Suzanne Sievert
often used figuratively to describe a situation, attitude, etc., of fierce or ruthless competition
Fashion Week is survival of the fittest. So preparing for all angles of what could happen is the smart move in this game.Christina M. Hinke
Survival of the fittest is a cold and heartless doctrine, unless you stop to think of the benefits of fitness. Strong, fit companies are job-creating companies …David Von Dreble
a survival of the fittest approach/mentality/environment

Examples of survival of the fittest in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Natural selection works not through survival of the best, but survival of the fittest, and the fittest depends as much on external circumstance as on any innate merit. Diana Gitig, Ars Technica, 24 June 2023 Variants continually compete in a veritable survival of the fittest, acquiring the same or similar mutations through a form of parallel evolution known as convergent evolution. Erin Prater, Fortune Well, 19 Dec. 2023 This is survival of the fittest taken to its chilling extreme. Jennifer Szalai, New York Times, 30 Aug. 2023 The challenge of blending their families is exacerbated by unforeseen chaos, and a necessary survival of the fittest takes hold. Josie Howell |, al, 14 May 2023 Our economic systems are not built on haves and have-nots, a Darwinian model of survival of the fittest that actually encourages class divisions and strife by rewarding winners who often seem to succeed by taking advantage of the less fortunate. Marja Heinonen, CNN, 29 Mar. 2023

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

1864, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of survival of the fittest was in 1864

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Cite this Entry

“Survival of the fittest.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

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survival of the fittest

Medical Definition

survival of the fittest

sur·​viv·​al of the fittest sər-ˈvī-vəl- How to pronounce survival of the fittest (audio)

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