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natural selection

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noun
  1. the process by which forms of life having traits that better enable them to adapt to specific environmental pressures, as predators, changes in climate, or competition for food or mates, will tend to survive and reproduce in greater numbers than others of their kind, thus ensuring the perpetuation of those favorable traits in succeeding generations.

Origin of natural selection

First recorded in 1855–60
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for natural selection

Historical Examples

  • Mr. Darwin supposes that Natural-Selection acts by slight variations.

    On the Genesis of Species

    St. George Mivart


British Dictionary definitions for natural selection

natural selection

noun
  1. a process resulting in the survival of those individuals from a population of animals or plants that are best adapted to the prevailing environmental conditions. The survivors tend to produce more offspring than those less well adapted, so that the characteristics of the population change over time, thus accounting for the process of evolution
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

natural selection in Medicine

natural selection

n.
  1. The process in nature by which, according to Darwin's theory of evolution, only the organisms best adapted to their environment tend to survive and transmit their genetic characters in increasing numbers to succeeding generations while those less adapted tend to be eliminated.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

natural selection in Science

natural selection

  1. The process by which organisms that are better suited to their environment than others produce more offspring. As a result of natural selection, the proportion of organisms in a species with characteristics that are adaptive to a given environment increases with each generation. Therefore, natural selection modifies the originally random variation of genetic traits in a species so that alleles that are beneficial for survival predominate, while alleles that are not beneficial decrease. Originally proposed by Charles Darwin, natural selection forms the basis of the process of evolution. See Notes at adaptation evolution. Compare artificial selection.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

natural selection in Culture

natural selection

A process fundamental to evolution as described by Charles Darwin. By natural selection, any characteristic of an individual that allows it to survive to produce more offspring will eventually appear in every individual of the species, simply because those members will have more offspring.

Note

The expression survival of the fittest was used to describe this process in the nineteenth century but is not favored by modern scientists.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.