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[uh-leel] /əˈlil/
noun, Genetics.
any of several forms of a gene, usually arising through mutation, that are responsible for hereditary variation.
Origin of allele
1930-35; < German Allel, apparently as shortening of German equivalents of allelomorph or allelomorphic gene; allelo- < Greek allēlo-, combining form of allḗlōn of/to one another, reciprocally
Related forms
[uh-lee-lik, uh-lel-ik] /əˈli lɪk, əˈlɛl ɪk/ (Show IPA),
allelism, noun
interallelic, adjective
nonallelic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for allele


any of two or more variants of a gene that have the same relative position on homologous chromosomes and are responsible for alternative characteristics, such as smooth or wrinkled seeds in peas Also called allelomorph (əˈliːləˌmɔːf) See also multiple alleles
Derived Forms
allelic, adjective
allelism, noun
Word Origin
C20: from German Allel, shortened from allelomorph, from Greek allēl- one another + morphē form
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for allele

1931, from German allel, abbreviation of allelomorph (1902), coined from Greek allel- "one another" (from allos "other;" see alias) + morphe "form" (see Morpheus).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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allele in Medicine

allele al·lele (ə-lēl')
One member of a pair or series of genes that occupies a specific position on a specific chromosome. Also called allelomorph.

al·le'lic (ə-lē'lĭk, ə-lěl'ĭk) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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allele in Science
Any of the possible forms in which a gene for a specific trait can occur. In almost all animal cells, two alleles for each gene are inherited, one from each parent. Paired alleles (one on each of two paired chromosomes) that are the same are called homozygous, and those that are different are called heterozygous. In heterozygous pairings, one allele is usually dominant, and the other recessive. Complex traits such as height and longevity are usually caused by the interactions of numerous pairs of alleles, while simple traits such as eye color may be caused by just one pair.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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allele in Culture
allele [(ul-leel)]

The sequence of nucleotides on a DNA molecule that constitutes the form of a gene at a specific spot or a chromosome. There can be several variations of this sequence, and each of these is called an allele. In the case of the gene for eye color, for example, one allele codes for blue eyes, whereas the other may code for brown eyes.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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