[ klahyn ]
/ klaɪn /


Biology. the gradual change in certain characteristics exhibited by members of a series of adjacent populations of organisms of the same species.
Linguistics. (in systemic linguistics) a scale of continuous gradation; continuum.

Nearby words

  1. clinch,
  2. clincher,
  3. clincher tire,
  4. clincher-built,
  5. clindamycin,
  6. cline, patsy,
  7. cling,
  8. cling peach,
  9. clingfilm,
  10. clingfish

Origin of cline

1935–40; < Greek klī́nein to lean1

Related formsclin·al, adjectiveclin·al·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for clinal

British Dictionary definitions for clinal


/ (klaɪn) /


a continuous variation in form between members of a species having a wide variable geographical or ecological range
Derived Formsclinal, adjectiveclinally, adverb

Word Origin for cline

C20: from Greek klinein to lean


/ (klaɪn) /


Patsy, original name Virginia Patterson Hensley . 1932–63, US country singer; her bestselling records include "Walking After Midnight", "I Fall to Pieces", and "Leavin' On Your Mind"
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

Word Origin and History for clinal



1938, in biological use, back-formation from incline or from Greek klinein "to slope, to lean" (see lean (v.)). Middle English had clinen (v.) "to bend, bow," from Old French cliner, from Latin clinare.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for clinal


[ klīn ]

A gradual change in an inherited characteristic across the geographic range of a species, usually correlated with an environmental transition such as altitude, temperature, or moisture. For example, the body size in a species of warm-blooded animals tends to be larger in cooler climates (a latitudinal cline), while the flowering time of a plant may tend to be later at higher altitudes (an altitudinal cline). In species in which the gene flow between adjacent populations is high, the cline is typically smooth, whereas in populations with restricted gene flow the cline usually occurs as a series of relatively abrupt changes from one group to the next.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.