[myoo-tey-shuh n]
  1. Biology.
    1. a sudden departure from the parent type in one or more heritable characteristics, caused by a change in a gene or a chromosome.
    2. an individual, species, or the like, resulting from such a departure.
  2. the act or process of changing.
  3. a change or alteration, as in form or nature.
  4. Phonetics. umlaut.
  5. Linguistics. (in Celtic languages) syntactically determined morphophonemic phenomena that affect initial sounds of words.

Origin of mutation

1325–75; Middle English mutacio(u)n < Latin mūtātion- (stem of mūtātiō) a changing. See mutate, -ion
Related formsmu·ta·tion·al, adjectivemu·ta·tion·al·ly, adverbnon·mu·ta·tion·al, adjectivenon·mu·ta·tion·al·ly, adverbun·mu·ta·tion·al, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for mutations

Contemporary Examples of mutations

Historical Examples of mutations

  • The steps in this chronological variation were termed by Waagen "mutations."

    Form and Function

    E. S. (Edward Stuart) Russell

  • In others, chromosomal aberrations occur, resulting in mutations.


    Jim Wannamaker

  • In the following tables cases of the use of mutations are shown.

  • How these sports or mutations come about we can now surmise.


    Reginald Crundall Punnett

  • For the late Mr. Farendell had suffered some change of mind with his other mutations.

British Dictionary definitions for mutations


  1. the act or process of mutating; change; alteration
  2. a change or alteration
  3. a change in the chromosomes or genes of a cell. When this change occurs in the gametes the structure and development of the resultant offspring may be affectedSee also inversion (def. 11)
  4. another word for mutant (def. 1)
  5. a physical characteristic of an individual resulting from this type of chromosomal change
  6. phonetics
    1. (in Germanic languages) another name for umlaut
    2. (in Celtic languages) a phonetic change in certain initial consonants caused by a preceding word
Derived Formsmutational, adjectivemutationally, adverb
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 mutations



late 14c., "action of changing," from Old French mutacion (13c.), and directly from Latin mutationem (nominative mutatio) "a changing, alteration, a turn for the worse," noun of action from past participle stem of mutare "to change" (see mutable). Genetic sense is from 1894.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

mutations in Medicine


  1. The act or process of being altered or changed.
  2. An alteration or change, as in nature, form, or quality.
  3. A sudden structural change within a gene or chromosome of an organism resulting in the creation of a new character or trait not found in the parental type.
  4. The process by which such a sudden structural change occurs, either through an alteration in the nucleotide sequence of the DNA coding for a gene or through a change in the physical arrangement of a chromosome.
  5. A mutant.
Related formsmu•tation•al adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

mutations in Science


  1. A change in the structure of the genes or chromosomes of an organism. Mutations occurring in the reproductive cells, such as an egg or sperm, can be passed from one generation to the next. Most mutations occur in junk DNA and have no discernible effects on the survivability of an organism. Of the remaining mutations, the majority have harmful effects, while a minority can increase an organism's ability to survive. A mutation that benefits a species may evolve by means of natural selection into a trait shared by some or all members of the species. See Note at sickle cell anemia.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

mutations in Culture


Changes in chromosomes or genes that cause offspring to have characteristics different from those of their parents. Mutations can be caused by the effects of chemicals, radiation, or even ordinary heat on DNA. Mutations produce some of the differences between members of a species on which natural selection acts.

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.