Origin of polyphyletic

First recorded in 1870–75; poly- + phyletic
Related formspol·y·phy·let·i·cal·ly, adverb
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Historical Examples of polyphyletic

British Dictionary definitions for polyphyletic


  1. biology relating to or characterized by descent from more than one ancestral group of animals or plants
Derived Formspolyphyletically, adverb

Word Origin for polyphyletic

C19: from poly- + phyletic
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

polyphyletic in Medicine


  1. Descended or derived from more than one ancestral stock or source.
  2. Of or being the theory that blood cells are derived from several different stem cells, depending on the particular blood cell type.
Related formspol′y•phyle•tism (-fīlĭ-tĭz′əm) n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

polyphyletic in Science


  1. Relating to a taxonomic group that does not include the common ancestor of the members of the group and whose members have two or more separate origins. A group that consists of flying vertebrates would be polyphyletic, as bats and birds independently evolved flight and do not share a common ancestor. Compare monophyletic paraphyletic.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.