[ on-toj-uh-nee ]
See synonyms for ontogeny on Thesaurus.com
  1. the development or developmental history of an individual organism.

Origin of ontogeny

First recorded in 1870–75; onto- + -geny
  • Also on·to·gen·e·sis [on-tuh-jen-uh-sis]. /ˌɒn təˈdʒɛn ə sɪs/.

Other words from ontogeny

  • on·to·ge·net·ic [on-tuh-juh-net-ik], /ˌɒn tə dʒəˈnɛt ɪk/, on·to·ge·net·i·cal, on·to·gen·ic, adjective
  • on·to·ge·net·i·cal·ly, on·to·gen·i·cal·ly, adverb
  • on·tog·e·nist, noun

Words Nearby ontogeny

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use ontogeny in a sentence

  • It is expressed by the formula of Herbert Spencer, "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny."

  • It relies on the facts of paleontology, and fills up the gaps in this by comparative anatomy and ontogeny.

    The Wonders of Life | Ernst Haeckel
  • ontogeny teaches unmistakably that its elementary organs, the epidermic cells, develop entirely from the ectoderm.

    The Wonders of Life | Ernst Haeckel
  • The three most valuable sources of evidence in phylogeny are paleontology, comparative anatomy, and ontogeny.

    The Wonders of Life | Ernst Haeckel
  • As we have seen, ontogeny is not completed at hatching or birth.

British Dictionary definitions for ontogeny


ontogenesis (ˌɒntəˈdʒɛnɪsɪs)

/ (ɒnˈtɒdʒənɪ) /

  1. the entire sequence of events involved in the development of an individual organism: Compare phylogeny

Derived forms of ontogeny

  • ontogenic (ˌɒntəˈdʒɛnɪk) or ontogenetic (ˌɒntədʒɪˈnɛtɪk), adjective
  • ontogenically or ontogenetically, 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

Scientific definitions for ontogeny


[ ŏn-tŏjə-nē ]

  1. The origin and development of an individual organism from embryo to adult.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.