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[spee-sheez, -seez] /ˈspi ʃiz, -siz/
noun, plural species.
a class of individuals having some common characteristics or qualities; distinct sort or kind.
Biology. the major subdivision of a genus or subgenus, regarded as the basic category of biological classification, composed of related individuals that resemble one another, are able to breed among themselves, but are not able to breed with members of another species.
  1. one of the classes of things included with other classes in a genus.
  2. the set of things within one of these classes.
  1. the external form or appearance of the bread or the wine in the Eucharist.
  2. either of the Eucharistic elements.
Obsolete. specie; coin.
the species, the human race; mankind:
a study of the species.
Horticulture. pertaining to a plant that is a representative member of a species, one that is not a hybrid or variety:
a species rose; a species gladiolus.
Origin of species
1545-55; < Latin speciēs appearance, form, sort, kind, equivalent to spec(ere) to look, regard + -iēs abstract noun suffix
Related forms
superspecies, noun, plural superspecies.
underspecies, noun, plural underspecies.
Can be confused
genus, species.
specie, species, specious. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for superspecies


/ˈspiːʃiːz; Latin ˈspiːʃɪˌiːz/
noun (pl) -cies
  1. any of the taxonomic groups into which a genus is divided, the members of which are capable of interbreeding: often containing subspecies, varieties, or races. A species is designated in italics by the genus name followed by the specific name, for example Felis domesticus (the domestic cat) sp
  2. the animals of such a group
  3. any group of related animals or plants not necessarily of this taxonomic rank
(modifier) denoting a plant that is a natural member of a species rather than a hybrid or cultivar: a species clematis
(logic) a group of objects or individuals, all sharing at least one common attribute, that forms a subdivision of a genus
a kind, sort, or variety: a species of treachery
(mainly RC Church) the outward form of the bread and wine in the Eucharist
(obsolete) an outward appearance or form
(obsolete) specie
Word Origin
C16: from Latin: appearance, from specere to look
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 superspecies



1550s, a classification in logic, from Latin species "kind, sort," originally "appearance, sight, a seeing," related to specere "to look at, to see, behold," from PIE *spek- (see scope (n.1)). Biological sense is from c.1600. Endangered species first attested 1964.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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superspecies in Medicine

species spe·cies (spē'shēz, -sēz)
n. pl. species

  1. A fundamental category of taxonomic classification, ranking below a genus or subgenus and consisting of related organisms capable of interbreeding.

  2. An organism belonging to such a category, represented in binomial nomenclature by an uncapitalized Latin adjective or noun following a capitalized genus name, as in the bacterium Escherichia coli.

  3. A class of pharmaceutical preparations consisting of a mixture of dried plants in sufficiently fine division to be used in making boiled extracts or infusions.

  4. A specific type of atomic nucleus, atom, ion, or molecule.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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superspecies in Science
  (spē'shēz, spē'sēz)   
A group of organisms having many characteristics in common and ranking below a genus. Organisms that reproduce sexually and belong to the same species interbreed and produce fertile offspring. Species names are usually written lower case and in italics, as rex in Tyrannosaurus rex. See Table at taxonomy.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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superspecies in Culture
species [(spee-sheez, spee-seez)]

A group of closely related and interbreeding living things; the smallest standard unit of biological classification. Species can be divided into varieties, races, breeds, or subspecies. Red pines, sugar maples, cats, dogs, chimpanzees, and people are species; Siamese cats and beagles are varieties, not species. (See Linnean classification.)

Note: The term can be used to refer to any group of related things: “This species of novel has become quite popular in recent years.”
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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Idioms and Phrases with superspecies


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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