[ jen-uh-tahyp, jee-nuh- ]
/ ˈdʒɛn əˌtaɪp, ˈdʒi nə- /
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noun Genetics.
the genetic makeup of an organism or group of organisms with reference to a single trait, set of traits, or an entire complex of traits.
the sum total of genes transmitted from parent to offspring.


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Compare phenotype.

Origin of genotype

<German Genotypus (1909); see gene, -o-, -type


gen·o·typ·ic [jen-uh-tip-ik, jee-nuh-], /ˌdʒɛn əˈtɪp ɪk, ˌdʒi nə-/, gen·o·typ·i·cal, adjectivegen·o·typ·i·cal·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What is a genotype?

A genotype is the genetic arrangement that makes up the traits that an organism inherited from its parents.

Genotype can also mean the entire collection of genes an offspring inherited from its parents.

In animals, a material known as DNA acts as the instructions that tell cells what to do. DNA is organized into incredibly long strands. Along these stands are sequences of base pairs that contain instructions to make specific proteins. These packets of instructions are what we call genes.

Human beings have around 20,000 genes in their DNA. Most of these genes are identical in all humans. However, several genes can vary from person to person. We call these different genes alleles, which result in the physical differences we can see, such as eye or hair color. An allele is created when the genes that you inherited from your father and ones you inherited from your mother combine. Your genotype is your specific arrangement of alleles that have to do with a certain trait, such as eye color.

For example, I have brown eyes. My eye color is a result of my genotype. I inherited eye color alleles from both my father and my mother. My father gave me the alleles for brown eyes (we’ll call this BR), and my mother also gave me the alleles for brown eyes (BR). My genotype, then, is BRBR, which is my two alleles combined together. My cells read these instructions, and this genotype results in me having my brown eyes.

Why is genotype important?

The first records of the word genotype come from around 1909. It comes from the German word Gynotypus, which means “type of genes.” Your genotype is the type of genes you specifically have and determines what your cells will do.

Genetics is complex science. For example, while the genotype is the arrangement of the alleles, the word for the actual physical appearance that results from the genotype interacting with the environment is known as a phenotype. And sometimes, the genotype doesn’t match the phenotype.

For example, flamingos only have a genotype that tells cells how to make white feathers. However, the food flamingos eat is high in proteins that cause a pink or orange feather pigment. The flamingo’s genotype is still set up for white feathers, but their diet has shifted their phenotype to be pink feathers.

Did you know … ?

Sometimes, both alleles in a genotype are visible in a phenotype with neither dominating the other. We can see this in plants’ petal color genotype. If a red rose combines with a white rose, it is possible that their offspring will have both color alleles and have both red and white petals.

What are real-life examples of genotype?

The following table, known as a Punnett square, shows the possible combinations of genotypes that an offspring could have based on the alleles of its parents.

Source: https://www.quora.com/How-is-a-Punnett-square-used-to-predict-genotypes-and-phenotypes

Because genetics is extremely complicated, teachers often teach students about genotypes to simplify the explanation.

What other words are related to genotype?

Quiz yourself!

True or False?

In genetics, a genotype is the arrangement of alleles.

How to use genotype in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for genotype

/ (ˈdʒɛnəʊˌtaɪp) /

the genetic constitution of an organism
a group of organisms with the same genetic constitution
Compare phenotype

Derived forms of genotype

genotypic (ˌdʒɛnəʊˈtɪpɪk) or genotypical, adjectivegenotypically, adverbgenotypicity (ˌdʒɛnəʊtɪˈpɪsɪtɪ), noun
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

Medical definitions for genotype

[ jĕnə-tīp′, jēnə- ]

The genetic constitution of an organism or a group of organisms.
A group or class of organisms having the same genetic constitution.

Other words from genotype

gen′o•typi•cal (-tĭpĭ-kəl) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Scientific definitions for genotype

[ jĕnə-tīp′, jēnə-tīp′ ]

The genetic makeup of an organism as distinguished from its physical characteristics. Compare phenotype.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for genotype


A combination of alleles situated on corresponding chromosomes that determines a specific trait.

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.