[ nee-ot-n-ee ]
/ niˈɒt n i /

noun Biology.

Also called pedogenesis. the production of offspring by an organism in its larval or juvenile form; the elimination of the adult phase of the life cycle.
a slowing of the rate of development with the consequent retention in adulthood of a feature or features that appeared in an earlier phase in the life cycle of ancestral individuals: Neoteny in the ostrich has resulted in adult birds sporting the down feathers of nestlings.



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Origin of neoteny

1900–05; <New Latin neotēnia<Greek neo-neo- + teín(ein) to stretch + -ia-y3


ne·ot·e·nous [nee-ot-n-uhs], /niˈɒt n əs/, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for neoteny

  • We have warrant for this possibility in the case of the Axolotl and in other similar cases of neoteny.

    Darwin and Modern Science|A.C. Seward and Others

British Dictionary definitions for neoteny

/ (nɪˈɒtənɪ) /


the persistence of larval or fetal features in the adult form of an animal. For example, the adult axolotl, a salamander, retains larval external gillsSee also paedogenesis

Derived forms of neoteny

neotenic (ˌniːəʊˈtɛnɪk) or neotenous, adjective

Word Origin for neoteny

C19: from New Latin neotenia, from Greek neo- + teinein to stretch
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 neoteny

[ nē-ŏtn-ē ]


The attainment of sexual maturity by an organism still in its larval stage.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Scientific definitions for neoteny

[ nē-ŏtn-ē ]

The retention of juvenile characteristics in the adults of a species. Humans, for example, are sometimes said to demonstrate neoteny by retaining through adulthood the relatively large head and hairlessness characteristic of very young primates. The body proportions of flightless birds, which resemble those of fetal flying birds, are also considered to be evidence of neoteny.
The attainment of sexual maturity by an organism still in its larval stage, seen in certain amphibians and insects. Certain species of salamanders, for instance, demonstrate neoteny as they become sexually mature but remain aquatic and do not develop legs. Neoteny sometimes occurs in response to environmental stresses such as low temperature or lack of iodine (which is essential for the thyroid gland). If environmental conditions improve, the organism can often develop into a fully mature adult form.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.