from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The act or process of being altered or changed.
  • noun An alteration or change, as in nature, form, or quality.
  • noun A change in the nucleotide sequence of the genome of an organism or virus, sometimes resulting in the appearance of a new character or trait not found in the parental type.
  • noun The process by which such a change occurs, either through an alteration in the nucleotide sequence coding for a gene or through a change in the physical arrangement of the genetic material.
  • noun The nucleotide sequence, trait, or individual that results from such a change.
  • noun A change affecting a sound or a class of sounds, such as back vowels or plosive consonants, through assimilation to another sound, as in the process of umlaut.
  • noun A change affecting a sound or a class of sounds that is conditioned by morphological or syntactic factors rather than purely phonological factors, as in Irish, where certain words cause the lenition of the initial consonants of the following word.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The act or process of changing; change; variableness.
  • noun Rotation; succession.
  • noun In phonetics, the change of a vowel through the influence of an a, i, or u in the following syllable: proposed for rendering German umlaut into English.
  • noun In music:
  • noun In medieval solmization, the change or passage from one hexachord to another, involving a change of the syllable applied to a given tone.
  • noun In violin-playing, the shifting of the hand from one position to another.
  • noun The change or alteration in a boy's voice at puberty.
  • noun In French law, transfer by purchase or descent.
  • noun A post-house.
  • noun In biology:
  • noun A sudden and inheritable change of type; a discontinuous variation; a sport.
  • noun One of a group of individuals which originate directly and immediately from pure-bred stock and have uniform or nearly uniform characteristics different from those of the parents. Mutations differ in form from their parents in much the same manner as closely related species differ from each other. The seeds from a single plant of one of the evening primroses. Œnothcra Lamarckiana, often produce several mutations in the first generation.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Change; alteration, either in form or qualities.
  • noun (Biol.) Gradual definitely tending variation, such as may be observed in a group of organisms in the fossils of successive geological levels.
  • noun As now employed (first by de Vries), a cellular process resulting in a sudden inheritable variation (the offspring differing from its parents in some well-marked character or characters) as distinguished from a gradual variation in which the new characters become fully developed only in the course of many generations. The occurrence of mutations, the selection of strains carrying mutations permitting enhanced survival under prevailing conditions, and the mechanism of hereditary of the characters so appearing, are well-established facts; whether and to what extent the mutation process has played the most important part in the evolution of the existing species and other groups of organisms is an unresolved question.
  • noun The result of the above process; a suddenly produced variation.
  • noun (Biol.) a variant strain of an organism in which the hereditary variant property is caused by a mutation{3}.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun any alteration or change
  • noun genetics Any heritable change of the base-pair sequence of genetic material
  • noun a mutant
  • noun linguistics an alteration a particular sound of a word, especially the initial consonant, which is triggered by the word's morphological or syntactic context and not by its phonological context
  • noun this sense?) collective noun for a collection of thrushes

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

  • noun (genetics) any event that changes genetic structure; any alteration in the inherited nucleic acid sequence of the genotype of an organism
  • noun (biology) an organism that has characteristics resulting from chromosomal alteration
  • noun a change or alteration in form or qualities


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

[Middle English mutacioun, from Old French mutacion, from Latin mūtātiō, mūtātiōn-, from past participle of mūtāre, to change; see mutate.]


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  • No character whose development is dependent in greater or less degree on the stimulation of some substance derived from the gonads can have originated as a mutation, because the term mutation means a new character which develops in the soma as a result of the loss or gain of some factor or determinant in the chromosomes.

    Hormones and Heredity J. T. Cunningham 1897

  • Interestingly, the mutation is also associated with certain other negative physiological consequences.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Some Scientists’ Openness to the Possibility of Genetic Differences in Mental Traits Among Racial and Ethnic Groups 2010

  • Hence, a psionic boy with telepathic powers due to his mutation is a science fiction character; but a prophet who reads the unspoken thoughts in the hearts of men due to a blessing from the elf-queen, is a fantasy character.

    INTERVIEW: John C. Wright 2004

  • Every discovered Drosophila gene mutation is given a name, and Gill had called his mutation "fruity."

    Homosexuality and Biology 1997

  • Every discovered Drosophila gene mutation is given a name, and Gill had called his mutation "fruity."

    Homosexuality and Biology 1997

  • When a 'mutation' is discovered in an individual I think 'isn't it possible that this is just a rare, but naturally occurring version or allele in the population as a whole which is perhaps becoming more common as conditions change?'.

    Being Opportunistic 2005

  • The genetic basis of the nude mouse mutation is a disruption of the FOXN1 gene.

    Nudity among animals 2010

  • LNN: Perhaps this questions is best asked off the record, and I don't want to sound too disparaging if any tender sensibilities are on the line, but I can't help but recognize the title image from your "Northern Lights" release is a mutation from a popular Mormon painting depicting the arrival of an extra terrestrial being from the planet Kolob to the American continent.

    LNN interviews Casey Rae-Hunter on his new album : The Lovecraft News Network 2010

  • The remaining three evolutionary forces are nonadaptive in the sense that they are not a function of the fitness properties of individuals: mutation is the ultimate source of variation on which natural selection acts, recombination assorts variation within and among chromosomes, and genetic drift ensures that gene frequencies will deviate a bit from generation to generation independent of other forces.

    A Disclaimer for Behe? 2009

  • The genetic basis of the nude mouse mutation is a disruption of the FOXN1 gene.

    Nudity among animals 2010


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