any process of formation or growth; development: the evolution of a language; the evolution of the airplane.
a product of such development; something evolved: The exploration of space is the evolution of decades of research.
Biology. change in the gene pool of a population from generation to generation by such processes as mutation, natural selection, and genetic drift.
a process of gradual, peaceful, progressive change or development, as in social or economic structure or institutions.
a motion incomplete in itself, but combining with coordinated motions to produce a single action, as in a machine.
a pattern formed by or as if by a series of movements: the evolutions of a figure skater.
an evolving or giving off of gas, heat, etc.
Mathematics. the extraction of a root from a quantity.: Compare involution (def. 4).
a movement or one of a series of movements of troops, ships, etc., as for disposition in order of battle or in line on parade.
any similar movement, especially in close order drill.
The earliest English meaning of evolution, “a movement or series of movements of troops or ships into battle formation,” dates from the early 17th century. The modern, biological sense “change in the gene pool of a population from generation to generation by mutation, natural selection, and genetic drift,” first appears in 1832 in the works of British geologist Charles Lyell in a discussion of some invertebrate sea creatures.
Charles Darwin did not use the word evolution at all in his first edition of On the Origin of Species (1859), although he did use the verb evolved at the very end of the book. Darwin preferred descent with modification, because the idea of progress had no place in his theory or work. It was his contemporary Herbert Spencer who, embracing Darwin's work, popularized evolution in its biological sense and also extended the word into ethics, philosophy, and sociology.
- ev·o·lu·tion·al, adjective
- ev·o·lu·tion·al·ly, adverb
- an·ti·ev·o·lu·tion, adjective
- an·ti·ev·o·lu·tion·al, adjective
- an·ti·ev·o·lu·tion·al·ly, adverb
- de-ev·o·lu·tion, noun
- non·ev·o·lu·tion·al, adjective
- non·ev·o·lu·tion·al·ly, adverb
- pre·ev·o·lu·tion·al, adjective
- pro·ev·o·lu·tion, adjective
- un·ev·o·lu·tion·al, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use evolution in a sentence
Their evolution has been going on for longer than I ever expected, and I am very proud of it.Christian Puglisi Is Closing His Influential Copenhagen Restaurants. COVID Is Only Partly to Blame | Rafael Tonon | September 17, 2020 | Eater
Fortune Connect is the next step in the evolution of our purpose.Announcing Fortune Connect, our new membership community | Alan Murray | September 15, 2020 | Fortune
So we have evolution to thank for shielding us from complete self-knowledge.
Through a gradual evolution, over many years of trial and error, we found an approach for making this work.What if Your Company Had No Rules? (Bonus Episode) | Maria Konnikova | September 12, 2020 | Freakonomics
Convergent evolution means there aren't even very many double-deckers left, and most planes carry their engines under the wings.The weird and wonderful Flying-V made a successful first flight | Jonathan M. Gitlin | September 11, 2020 | Ars Technica
Human evolution has left men as deeply wired for emotional connections to children as women are.
This view is known as “theistic evolution” and is widely embraced by educated evangelicals.
The moment where they enter the spirit portal symbolizes their evolution from being friends to being a couple.Yep, Korra and Asami Went in the Spirit Portal and Probably Kissed | Melissa Leon | December 25, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
The traditional wisdom is “action is character,” and their evolution is one, with a slight edge to character.Alfred Hitchcock’s Fade to Black: The Great Director’s Final Days | David Freeman | December 13, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
The evolution of style is oft studied but rarely understood in any comprehensive manner.
The evolution theory alleges that they were evolved, slowly, by natural processes out of previously existing matter.God and my Neighbour | Robert Blatchford
To fix on any one stage in such an evolution, detach it, affirm it, is to wrest a true scripture to its destruction.Solomon and Solomonic Literature | Moncure Daniel Conway
The biological doctrine of evolution was misinterpreted and misapplied to social policy.The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice | Stephen Leacock
In the flowers, both by day and night, there is a constant absorption of oxygen, and evolution of carbonic acid.Elements of Agricultural Chemistry | Thomas Anderson
That at some period of Man's gradual evolution from the brute, God found Man guilty of some sin, and cursed him.God and my Neighbour | Robert Blatchford
British Dictionary definitions for evolution
biology a gradual change in the characteristics of a population of animals or plants over successive generations: accounts for the origin of existing species from ancestors unlike them: See also natural selection
a gradual development, esp to a more complex form: the evolution of modern art
the act of throwing off, as heat, gas, vapour, etc
a pattern formed by a series of movements or something similar
an algebraic operation in which the root of a number, expression, etc, is extracted: Compare involution (def. 6)
military an exercise carried out in accordance with a set procedure or plan
- evolutionary or evolutional, adjective
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
Scientific definitions for evolution
The process by which species of organisms arise from earlier life forms and undergo change over time through natural selection. The modern understanding of the origins of species is based on the theories of Charles Darwin combined with a modern knowledge of genetics based on the work of Gregor Mendel. Darwin observed there is a certain amount of variation of traits or characteristics among the different individuals belonging to a population. Some of these traits confer fitness-they allow the individual organism that possesses them to survive in their environment better than other individuals who do not possess them and to leave more offspring. The offspring then inherit the beneficial traits, and over time the adaptive trait spreads through the population. In twentieth century, the development of the the science of genetics helped explain the origin of the variation of the traits between individual organisms and the way in which they are passed from generation to generation. This basic model of evolution has since been further refined, and the role of genetic drift and sexual selection in the evolution of populations has been recognized. See also natural selection sexual selection. See Notes at adaptation Darwin.
A process of development and change from one state to another, as of the universe in its development through time.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Cultural definitions for evolution
A theory first proposed in the nineteenth century by Charles Darwin, according to which the Earth's species have changed and diversified through time under the influence of natural selection. Life on Earth is thought to have evolved in three stages. First came chemical evolution, in which organic molecules (see also organic molecule) were formed. This was followed by the development of single cells capable of reproducing themselves. This stage led to the development of complex organisms capable of sexual reproduction. Evolution is generally accepted as fact by scientists today, although debates continue over the precise mechanisms involved in the process. (See mutation, punctuated equilibrium, and creation science.)
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.