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[dom-uh-nuh nt] /ˈdɒm ə nənt/
ruling, governing, or controlling; having or exerting authority or influence:
dominant in the chain of command.
occupying or being in a commanding or elevated position.
predominant; main; major; chief:
Corn is the dominant crop of Iowa.
Genetics. of or relating to a dominant.
Music. pertaining to or based on the dominant:
the dominant chord.
  1. the one of a pair of alternative alleles that masks the effect of the other when both are present in the same cell or organism.
  2. the trait or character determined by such an allele.
    Compare recessive (defs 4, 5).
Music. the fifth tone of a diatonic scale.
Ecology. any of one or more types of plants, or sometimes animals, that by virtue of abundance, size, or habits exert so important an influence on the conditions of an area as to determine, to a great extent, what other organisms can live there.
Origin of dominant
1525-35; < Latin dominant- (stem of domināns, present participle of dominārī to dominate), equivalent to domin(us) master + -ant- -ant
Related forms
dominantly, adverb
nondominant, adjective, noun
Can be confused
dominant, dominate, domineer.
1. prevailing, principal.
Synonym Study
1.Dominant, predominant, paramount, preeminent describe something outstanding. Dominant describes something that is most influential or important: the dominant characteristics of monkeys. Predominant describes something that is dominant over all others, or is more widely prevalent: Curiosity is the predominant characteristic of monkeys. Paramount applies to something that is first in rank or order: Safety is of paramount importance. Preeminent applies to a prominence based on recognition of excellence: His work was of preeminent quality. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for dominant
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In spite of his youth he was unquestionably the dominant spirit here.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • I have said that the dominant thinking of our age is materialistic, and by that I mean also physical.

  • Cassidy struggled with all his pride against the dominant fury this man hurled on him.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • The old fascination was still as dominant as at its birth, sixteen years ago.

    Tiverton Tales Alice Brown
  • Of the two, his miserable little accuser was the dominant figure.

    The Avenger E. Phillips Oppenheim
British Dictionary definitions for dominant


having primary control, authority, or influence; governing; ruling
predominant or primary: the dominant topic of the day
occupying a commanding position
  1. (of an allele) producing the same phenotype in the organism irrespective of whether the allele of the same gene is identical or dissimilar
  2. (of a character) controlled by such a gene
Compare recessive (sense 2)
(music) of or relating to the fifth degree of a scale
(ecology) (of a plant or animal species within a community) more prevalent than any other species and determining the appearance and composition of the community
  1. a dominant allele or character
  2. an organism having such an allele or character
  1. the fifth degree of a scale and the second in importance after the tonic
  2. a key or chord based on this
(ecology) a dominant plant or animal in a community
Derived Forms
dominantly, adverb
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 dominant

mid-15c., from Middle French dominant (13c.), from Latin dominantem (nominative dominans), present participle of dominari (see domination). Music sense is from 1819. Sexual bondage sense by c.1960. The noun is first recorded 1819, earliest in the musical sense.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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dominant in Medicine

dominant dom·i·nant (dŏm'ə-nənt)

  1. Exercising the most influence or control.

  2. Of, relating to, or being an allele that produces the same phenotypic effect whether inherited with a homozygous or heterozygous allele.

  1. A dominant allele or trait.

  2. An organism having a dominant trait.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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dominant in Science
  1. Relating to the form of a gene that expresses a trait, such as hair color, in an individual organism. The dominant form of a gene overpowers the counterpart, or recessive, form located on the other of a pair of chromosomes.

  2. Relating to the trait expressed by such a gene. See more at inheritance. Compare recessive.

  3. Being a species that has the greatest effect within its ecological community, especially by determining the presence, abundance, or type of other species. As a plant community progresses through stages of succession, different species may become dominant for a period until the climax community is reached, at which point the dominant species remains stable until a major disruption occurs. Among animals, the dominant species in a community is generally the top predator or the most abundant or widespread species.

  4. Being an animal that occupies the highest position in a social hierarchy and has the greatest access to resources such as food and a mate or mates. Social dominance is gained and maintained through factors such as size and aggressiveness.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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