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[het-er-uh-jee-nee-uh s, -jeen-yuh s] /ˌhɛt ər əˈdʒi ni əs, -ˈdʒin yəs/
different in kind; unlike; incongruous.
composed of parts of different kinds; having widely dissimilar elements or constituents:
The party was attended by a heterogeneous group of artists, politicians, and social climbers.
Chemistry. (of a mixture) composed of different substances or the same substance in different phases, as solid ice and liquid water.
Origin of heterogeneous
1615-25; < Medieval Latin heterogeneus < Greek heterogenḗs. See hetero-, gene, -ous
Related forms
heterogeneously, adverb
heterogeneousness, noun
Can be confused
heterogeneous, heterogenous, homogeneous, homogenous.
2. varied, diverse.
2. homogeneous. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for heterogeneous
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Those history plays, however, that do not follow the formulas for tragedy, are a heterogeneous group not easily classified.

    The Facts About Shakespeare William Allan Nielson
  • Once, among the heterogeneous crowd of inmates there appeared a dancing-master.

    Little Dorrit Charles Dickens
  • Look down upon this audience and you shall see a heterogeneous assembly such as London alone of the cities can show you.

    Aladdin of London Sir Max Pemberton
  • The crockery was heterogeneous, and was slumped under colour-headings.

  • I asked innocently, my eyes ranging over the heterogeneous collection on the mantel.

    The Long Day Dorothy Richardson
  • The truth was, that his language and habits were as heterogeneous as his external appearance.

    Waverley Sir Walter Scott
  • When broad daylight came we had the opportunity of seeing some of the heterogeneous elements of which Richmond was composed.

  • This heterogeneous family is well represented in the Nilgiris.

  • Without this, such a conflict, excluding all heterogeneous or objective factors, would not be possible.

British Dictionary definitions for heterogeneous


composed of unrelated or differing parts or elements
not of the same kind or type
(chem) of, composed of, or concerned with two or more different phases Compare homogeneous
Derived Forms
heterogeneity (ˌhɛtərəʊdʒɪˈniːɪtɪ), heterogeneousness, noun
heterogeneously, adverb
Word Origin
C17: from Medieval Latin heterogeneus, from Greek heterogenēs, from hetero- + genos sort
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
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Word Origin and History for heterogeneous

1620s, from Medieval Latin heterogeneus, from Greek heterogenes, from heteros "different" (see hetero-) + genos "kind, gender, race stock" (see genus). Earlier in same sense was heterogeneal (c.1600).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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heterogeneous in Medicine

heterogeneous het·er·o·ge·ne·ous (hět'ər-ə-jē'nē-əs, -jēn'yəs)
Composed of parts having dissimilar characteristics or properties.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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heterogeneous in Technology

Composed of unrelated parts, different in kind.
Often used in the context of distributed systems that may be running different operating systems or network protocols (a heterogeneous network).
For examples see: interoperable database, middleware.
Constrast homogeneous.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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