[ het-uh-roh-juh-nee-i-tee ]
/ ˌhɛt ə roʊ dʒəˈni ɪ ti /
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the quality or state of being heterogeneous; composition from dissimilar parts; disparateness.
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Origin of heterogeneity

From the Medieval Latin word heterogeneitās, dating back to 1635–45. See heterogeneous, -ity
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does heterogeneity mean?

Heterogeneity is the state or quality of being heterogeneous—consisting of different, distinguishable parts or elements.

Heterogeneous is used in a more specific way in the context of chemistry to describe a mixture consisting of two or more different substances or the same substance in different phases of matter (such as ice and liquid water). Heterogeneity can refer to the state of such a mixture.

The opposite of heterogeneity is homogeneity, which is the state of being homogeneous—consisting of parts or elements that are all the same.

Example: The strength of the exhibit is its heterogeneity—it features a mix of artifacts from different cultures and eras.

Where does heterogeneity come from?

The first record of the word heterogeneity comes from around 1640. It ultimately comes from the Greek heterogenḗs, from hetero, meaning “different,” and génos, meaning “kind.” The suffix -ity is used to form nouns.

In general, things that are homogeneous are all the same, and things that are heterogeneous consist of a variety of different parts. The word homogeneity is often used in the context of criticism that implies that such things are biased, boring, or bland. Heterogeneity is sometimes used in the opposite sense, such as in praise of the variety of a culture. However, heterogeneity is perhaps most often used in a scientific context as a more technical way of saying variety or diversity.

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What are some other forms related to heterogeneity?

What are some synonyms for heterogeneity?

What are some words that share a root or word element with heterogeneity

What are some words that often get used in discussing heterogeneity?

What are some words heterogeneity may be commonly confused with?

How is heterogeneity used in real life?

Heterogeneity is often used in a scientific context, but it can also be used in a general way.



Try using heterogeneity!

Which of the following things would NOT be considered to be in a state of heterogeneity?

A. a bowl of mixed nuts
B. a glass of water
C. a glass of ice water
D. water with sand in it

How to use heterogeneity in a sentence

Cultural definitions for heterogeneity

[ (het-uh-roh-juh-nee-uh-tee) ]

Cultural, social, biological, or other differences within a group. (Compare homogeneity.)

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.