noun (used with a singular verb)
a field of study concerned with the ethics and philosophical implications of certain biological and medical procedures, technologies, and treatments, as organ transplants, genetic engineering, and care of the terminally ill.

1970–75; bio- + ethics

bioethical, adjective
bioethicist [bahy-oh-eth-uh-sist] , noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
bioethics (ˌbaɪəʊˈɛθɪks)
(functioning as singular) the study of ethical problems arising from biological research and its applications in such fields as organ transplantation, genetic engineering, or artificial insemination

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

coined 1970 by U.S. biochemist Van Rensselaer Potter II (19112001), who defined it as "Biology combined with diverse humanistic knowledge forging a science that sets a system of medical and environmental priorities for acceptable survival." From bio- + ethics.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

bioethics bi·o·eth·ics (bī'ō-ěth'ĭks)
The study of the ethical and moral implications of new biological discoveries and biomedical advances, as in the fields of genetic engineering and drug research.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
bioethics   (bī'ō-ěth'ĭks)  Pronunciation Key 
The study of the ethical and moral implications of medical research and practice.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

bioethics definition

The application of ethics to the science and practice of biology, especially as modern science is applied to human life and reproduction.

Note: With the advent of cloning and research on embryonic stem cells, bioethics has become an important branch of scientific inquiry.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Britannica


branch of applied ethics that studies the philosophical, social, and legal issues arising in medicine and the life sciences. It is chiefly concerned with human life and well-being, though it sometimes also treats ethical questions relating to the nonhuman biological environment. (Such questions are studied primarily in the independent fields of environmental ethics [see environmentalism] and animal rights.)

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
He trained as both a doctor and a biochemist before venturing into the squishy
  field of bioethics.
But none of us needs a degree in bioethics to find the bottom line in the
It is also a milestone in bioethics, touching as it does on a number of moral
  and ethical issues surrounding the end of life.
All of these issues find their home in my field of philosophy: bioethics.
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