Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[on-toj-uh-nee] /ɒnˈtɒdʒ ə ni/
noun, Biology.
the development or developmental history of an individual organism.
Also, ontogenesis
[on-tuh-jen-uh-sis] /ˌɒn təˈdʒɛn ə sɪs/ (Show IPA)
Compare phylogeny.
Origin of ontogeny
First recorded in 1870-75; onto- + -geny
Related forms
[on-tuh-juh-net-ik] /ˌɒn tə dʒəˈnɛt ɪk/ (Show IPA),
ontogenetical, ontogenic, adjective
ontogenetically, ontogenically, adverb
ontogenist, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for ontogenesis
Historical Examples
  • But ontogenesis would have furnished us with facts no less cogent.

    Creative Evolution Henri Bergson
  • It studies man from two different points of view: his development (ontogenesis), and his variations.

    Pedagogical Anthropology Maria Montessori
  • The ontogenesis of any given living organism is a short, condensed recapitulation of its ancestral history or of its phylogenesis.

    The Last Link Ernst Haeckel
  • It summarises the history of species; ontogenesis, we are told, reproduces phylogenesis.

  • This exceedingly important larval form, the "gastrula," makes its appearance in the ontogenesis of all tribes of animals.

    Was Man Created? Henry A. Mott
  • It is naturally no easy matter to trace the ontogenesis of the herd instinct.

British Dictionary definitions for ontogenesis


the entire sequence of events involved in the development of an individual organism Compare phylogeny
Derived Forms
ontogenic (ˌɒntəˈdʒɛnɪk), ontogenetic (ˌɒntədʒɪˈnɛtɪk) adjective
ontogenically, ontogenetically, 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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for ontogenesis



"development of an individual," 1872, from onto- + -geny. Related: Ontogenic; ontogenesis.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
ontogenesis in Medicine

ontogenesis on·to·gen·e·sis (ŏn'tō-jěn'ĭ-sĭs)
See ontogeny.

ontogeny on·tog·e·ny (ŏn-tŏj'ə-nē)
The origin and development of an individual organism from embryo to adult. Also called ontogenesis.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
ontogenesis in Science
The origin and development of an individual organism from embryo to adult.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for ontogenesis

Difficulty index for ontogeny

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for ontogenesis

Scrabble Words With Friends