[ het-er-uh-jee-nee-uhs, -jeen-yuhs ]
/ ˌhɛt ər əˈdʒi ni əs, -ˈdʒin yəs /
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See synonyms for: heterogeneous / heterogeneousness on Thesaurus.com


different in kind; unlike; incongruous.
composed of parts of different kinds; having widely dissimilar elements or constituents: The party was attended by a heterogeneous group of artists, politicians, and social climbers.
Chemistry. (of a mixture) composed of different substances or the same substance in different phases, as solid ice and liquid water.



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Origin of heterogeneous

1615–25; <Medieval Latin heterogeneus<Greek heterogenḗs.See hetero-, gene, -ous

OTHER WORDS FROM heterogeneous

het·er·o·ge·ne·ous·ly, adverbhet·er·o·ge·ne·ous·ness, noun


heterogeneous , heterogenous, homogeneous, homogenous
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does heterogeneous mean?

Heterogeneous most generally means consisting of different, distinguishable parts or elements.

The word 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).

In either sense, the state of being heterogeneous is heterogeneity.

The general sense of heterogeneous is not as commonly used as the general sense of its opposite, homogeneous—which most often means consisting of parts or elements that are all the same. The word homogenous (which is spelled without a second e and is pronounced differently) can be used to mean the same thing.

The word heterogenous is very similar in spelling but not in meaning. It’s used in the context of biology and medicine to refer to something that originated outside of the body or that is derived from another individual or species (such as a skin graft).

Example: The exhibit features a heterogeneous mix of artifacts from different cultures and eras.

Where does heterogeneous come from?

The first record of heterogeneous comes from around 1620. It comes from the Greek heterogenḗs, from hetero, meaning “different,” and génos, “kind.”

In general, things that are homogeneous are all the same, and things that are heterogeneous consist of a variety of different parts. The same thing goes in chemistry. Homogenous mixtures are uniform in consistency. But the different elements of a heterogeneous mixture, such as ice floating in water, are often easy to distinguish and even sometimes separate.

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What are some other forms related to heterogeneous?

  • heterogeneously (adverb)
  • heterogeneousness (noun)
  • heterogeneity (noun)

What are some synonyms for heterogeneous?

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

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

What are some words heterogeneous may be commonly confused with?

How is heterogeneous used in real life?

Heterogeneous is used in the context of chemistry, but it’s also commonly used in a general way.



Try using heterogeneous!

Which of the following things would NOT be considered a heterogeneous mixture?

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

Example sentences from the Web for heterogeneous

British Dictionary definitions for heterogeneous

/ (ˌhɛtərəʊˈdʒiːnɪəs) /


composed of unrelated or differing parts or elements
not of the same kind or type
chem of, composed of, or concerned with two or more different phasesCompare homogeneous

Derived forms of heterogeneous

heterogeneity (ˌhɛtərəʊdʒɪˈniːɪtɪ) or heterogeneousness, nounheterogeneously, adverb

Word Origin for heterogeneous

C17: from Medieval Latin heterogeneus, from Greek heterogenēs, from hetero- + genos sort
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 heterogeneous

[ hĕt′ər-ə-jēnē-əs, -jēnyəs ]


Composed of parts having dissimilar characteristics or properties.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.