Relating to a taxonomic group that includes some but not all of the descendants of a common ancestor. In the traditional taxonomy of vertebrates, where fish are a separate class from the classes of terrestrial vertebrates, the class of fish is paraphyletic, since the terrestrial vertebrates are descended from a type of fish. Compare monophyletic polyphyletic.

Nearby words

  1. paraphimosis,
  2. paraphrase,
  3. paraphrasis,
  4. paraphrast,
  5. paraphrastic,
  6. paraphysis,
  7. paraplanner,
  8. paraplegia,
  9. paraplegic,
  10. parapodium

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