Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Genetics The process of cell division in sexually reproducing organisms that reduces the number of chromosomes in reproductive cells from diploid to haploid, leading to the production of gametes in animals and spores in plants.
  • n. Rhetorical understatement.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A figure of speech whereby something is made to seem smaller or less important than it actually is.
  • n. Cell division of a diploid cell into four haploid cells, which develop to produce gametes.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Diminution; a species of hyperbole, representing a thing as being less than it really is; understatement; see also litotes.
  • n. The cellular process by which a diploid progenitor cell forms haploid gametes, including a division of one diploid cell into two cells, each with one of the homologous sets of chromosomes.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. understatement for rhetorical effect (especially when expressing an affirmative by negating its contrary)
  • n. (genetics) cell division that produces reproductive cells in sexually reproducing organisms; the nucleus divides into four nuclei each containing half the chromosome number (leading to gametes in animals and spores in plants)

Etymologies

Greek meiōsis, diminution, from meioun, to diminish, from meiōn, less; see mei-2 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Modern Latin, from Ancient Greek μείωσις (meiōsis, "a lessening"), from μειόω (meioō, "I lessen"), from μείων (meiōn, "less"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • The moment of conception of a kitten.

    September 28, 2008