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Borrowed from Latin ēvolūtiō, ēvolūtiōnis (the act of unrolling, unfolding or opening (of a book)), from ēvolūtus, perfect passive participle of ēvolvō (unroll, unfold), from ex + volvō (roll).



evolution (countable and uncountable, plural evolutions)

  1. A change of position.
    1. (military) A manoeuvre of troops or ships. [from 17th c.]
      • 1751, [Tobias] Smollett, The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle [], volumes (please specify |volume=I to IV), London: Harrison and Co., [], →OCLC:
        Mean while, he never failed to be present, when any regiment, or corps of men, were drawn out to be exercised and reviewed, and accompanied them in all their evolutions [] .
      • 1779, Frances Burney, Journals & Letters, Penguin, published 2001, page 117:
        Major Holroyd, who acted as the General, was extremely polite, and attentive, and came to us between every evolution, to explain and talk over the manoeuvres.
    2. (chiefly dance, sports) A turning movement, especially of the body. [from 17th c.]
      • 1751, [Tobias] Smollett, The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle [], volumes (please specify |volume=I to IV), London: Harrison and Co., [], →OCLC:
        Our necromancer [] taking up his wand, waved it around his head in a very mysterious motion, with a view of intimidating these forward visitants, who, far from being awed by this sort of evolution, became more and more obstreperous [] .
      • 1869, anonymous author, Miss Langley's Will:
        It was a critical instant: the pirouette -- it would fail, she feared. … the rapid whirl achieved in exact time, the whole evolution executed to perfection.
      • 1825, Theodore Edward Hook, Sayings and Doings: Passion and principle:
        … as he beheld the tenfold pirouette of a lovely girl, which presented to the public eye the whole of her form and figure; … to praise the dexterity and ease with which the unfortunate and degraded creature had performed the ungraceful evolution, the only merit of which, is the gross exposition of person, at which modesty shudders […]
      • 1863, Knightley Willia Horlock, The master of the hounds:
        "Look now, that pirouette -- my stars! how Beauchamp would stare to see his darling perform such an evolution!"
      • 1869, William Clarke, The boy's own book:
        By this operation each foot will describe an arc or segment of a circle. … This evolution is performed sometimes on one foot, sometimes on the other …
    3. (obsolete) A turned or twisted shape; an involution, a complex or intricate shape. [18th c.]
      • 1791, James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson, Oxford, published 2008, page 298:
        ‘It is not in the showy evolutions of buildings, but in the multiplicity of human habitations which are crouded together, that the wonderful immensity of London consists.’
  2. An unfolding.
    1. (now rare) The act or process of unfolding or opening out; the progression of events in regular succession. [from 17th c.]
    2. (geometry) The opening out of a curve; now more generally, the gradual transformation of a curve by a change of the conditions generating it. [from 17th c.]
    3. (mathematics, now chiefly historical) The extraction of a root from a given power. [from 17th c.]
    4. (chemistry) The act or an instance of giving off gas; emission. [from 18th c.]
  3. Process of development.
    1. Development; the act or result of developing what was implicit in an idea, argument etc. [from 17th c.]
      The ongoing evolution of Lolita subculture fashion includes, among other things, the ballet style.
      • 2005, Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth:
        Suffering has a noble purpose: the evolution of consciousness and the burning up of the ego.
    2. A process of gradual change in a given system, subject, product etc., especially from simpler to more complex forms. [from 18th c.]
      Among other forms of change, the evolution of transportation has involved modification, diversification, convergence, divergence, hybridization, differentiation, and naturally, selection.
      • 1922, Ben Travers, chapter 4, in A Cuckoo in the Nest[1]:
        By some paradoxical evolution rancour and intolerance have been established in the vanguard of primitive Christianity. Mrs. Spoker, in common with many of the stricter disciples of righteousness, was as inclement in demeanour as she was cadaverous in aspect.
      • 1976, Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene:
        There are some examples of cultural evolution in birds and monkeys, but [] it is our own species that really shows what cultural evolution can do.
    3. (biology) The transformation of animals, plants and other living things into different forms (now understood as a change in genetic composition) by the accumulation of changes over successive generations. [from 19th c.]
      • 1832, Charles Lyell, chapter I, in Principles of Geology [] , volume II, London: John Murray, page 11:
        [] and thus he [Lamarck] was inclined to assert the priority of the types of marine animals to those of the terrestrial, and to fancy, for example, that the testacea of the ocean existed first, until some of them, by gradual evolution, were improved into those inhabiting the land.
      • 1976, Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene:
        [Some books have] made the erroneous assumption that the important thing in evolution is the good of the species (or the group) rather than the good of the individual (or the gene).
      • 2013 May-June, Katrina G. Claw, “Rapid Evolution in Eggs and Sperm”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 3:
        Many genes with reproductive roles also have antibacterial and immune functions, which indicate that the threat of microbial attack on the sperm or egg may be a major influence on rapid evolution during reproduction.


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evolution c

  1. evolution; development
  2. (biology) evolution


Declension of evolution 
Singular Plural
Indefinite Definite Indefinite Definite
Nominative evolution evolutionen evolutioner evolutionerna
Genitive evolutions evolutionens evolutioners evolutionernas

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